Olfactory modulation of the medial prefrontal cortex circuitry: Implications for social cognition

Janardhan P. Bhattarai, Semra Etyemez, Hanna Jaaro-Peled, Emma Janke, Usuy D. Leon Tolosa, Atsushi Kamiya, Jay A. Gottfried, Akira Sawa, Minghong Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Olfactory dysfunction is manifested in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric diseases, and often emerges prior to the onset of more classical symptoms and signs. From a behavioral perspective, olfactory deficits typically arise in conjunction with impairments of cognition, motivation, memory, and emotion. However, a conceptual framework for explaining the impact of olfactory processing on higher brain functions in health and disease remains lacking. Here we aim to provide circuit-level insights into this question by synthesizing recent advances in olfactory network connectivity with other cortical brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex. We will focus on social cognition as a representative model for exploring and critically evaluating the relationship between olfactory cortices and higher-order cortical regions in rodent models. Although rodents do not recapitulate all dimensions of human social cognition, they have experimentally accessible neural circuits and well-established behavioral tests for social motivation, memory/recognition, and hierarchy, which can be extrapolated to other species including humans. In particular, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been recognized as a key brain region in mediating social cognition in both rodents and humans. This review will highlight the underappreciated connectivity, both anatomical and functional, between the olfactory system and mPFC circuitry, which together provide a neural substrate for olfactory modulation of social cognition and social behaviors. We will provide future perspectives on the functional investigation of the olfactory-mPFC circuit in rodent models and discuss how to translate such animal research to human studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Anterior olfactory nucleus
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Neuropsychiatric diseases
  • Olfactory function, olfactory cortex
  • Social behaviors
  • Social cognition
  • Taenia tecta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Olfactory modulation of the medial prefrontal cortex circuitry: Implications for social cognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this