EXPERIENCE DEPENDENT VISUAL CORTICAL DEVELOPMENT

Summary

Principal Investigator: MARK BEAR
Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Country: USA
Abstract: It has been appreciated for over 30 years that visual experience during an early postnatal critical period of development produces permanent modifications of the connectivity, physiology and function of the visual cortex. Besides the obvious relevance of this neural plasticity to the development of visual capabilities in humans and animals, it seems likely that similar processes form the basis for some forms of learning and memory in the adult brain. Considerable progress has been made in identifying the specific changes in visual cortex that result from rearing the animals in different environments, but the detailed mechanisms that underlie these modifications have remained elusive. Recently, however, advances in understanding the receptor mechanisms that mediate synaptic excitation and inhibition in the visual cortex during development have provided an exciting new opportunity to investigate the mechanisms of experience-dependent brain modification. The long-term goal of this project is to elucidate these molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent cortical plasticity. It is hypothesized that naturally occurring synaptic enhancements employ the mechanisms that underlie long-term synaptic potentiation (LTP), a type of plasticity that can be elicited in cortical synapses by tetanic electrical stimulation. To examine this hypothesis, a preparation has been introduced in which LTP can be elicited in the geniculo-cortical projection in vivo. Our first aim is to determine if experience dependent synaptic enhancement and LTP utilize a common saturable expression mechanism by (1) probing LTP saturation limits after experience-dependent synaptic enhancement, and (2) by saturating the expression mechanism for LTP and determining if this occludes or prevents the effects of experience. These experiments will address the question of whether the expression mechanisms of LTP are necessary for aspects of experience-dependent cortical plasticity, and vice versa. Our second aim is to determine if the mechanisms of LTP are sufficient to cause the same changes as visual experience in visual cortical (1) glutamate receptors (phosphorylation and distribution), and (2) population synaptic currents (evoked with visual stimulation or electrical stimulation of the LGN). These experiments promise to establish that LTP and naturally occurring synaptic plasticity utilize common mechanisms.
Funding Period: 1998-08-01 - 2006-07-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi Obligatory role of NR2A for metaplasticity in visual cortex
    Benjamin D Philpot
    Curriculum in Neurobiology, Neuroscience Center, and Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 105 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
    Neuron 53:495-502. 2007
  2. ncbi Thalamic activity that drives visual cortical plasticity
    MONICA L LINDEN
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    Nat Neurosci 12:390-2. 2009

Detail Information

Publications2

  1. ncbi Obligatory role of NR2A for metaplasticity in visual cortex
    Benjamin D Philpot
    Curriculum in Neurobiology, Neuroscience Center, and Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 105 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
    Neuron 53:495-502. 2007
    ..These data support the hypothesis that experience-dependent changes in NR2A/B are functionally significant and yield a mechanism for an adjustable synaptic modification threshold in visual cortex...
  2. ncbi Thalamic activity that drives visual cortical plasticity
    MONICA L LINDEN
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    Nat Neurosci 12:390-2. 2009
    ..Our findings substantially alter the interpretation of previous studies and define the afferent activity patterns that trigger cortical plasticity...