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J Neurophysiol. 2000 Oct;84(4):1971-81.

Enhancement of cortical plasticity by behavioral training in acetylcholine-depleted adult rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville 37240, Tennessee, USA.


Trimming all whiskers except two on one side of an adult rat's face results in cortical plasticity in which the spared whiskers, D2 and one D-row surround whisker (either D1 or D3), evoked responses containing more spikes than the response evoked by the cut whisker (called whisker pairing plasticity). Previously we have reported that acetylcholine (ACh) depletion in cortex prevents surround D-row whisker plasticity from developing within the barrel cortex. In this study we examined whether the animal's active use of its two intact whiskers can restore some aspects of plasticity in the ACh-depleted cortex. To achieve this goal, ACh was depleted from barrel field cortex, and 14 days after the depletion surgery, whiskers were trimmed and animals were trained on a whisker-dependent gap crossing task. After 7 days of training, animals were anesthetized with urethan and prepared for single-unit recording. Training the ACh-depleted, whisker-paired animals resulted in a significant enhancement of responses to paired surround whiskers: the D-paired whisker-evoked response contained more spikes than the D-cut evoked response. We conclude that training whisker paired rats has a positive impact on response properties of neurons in S1 cortex, even in ACh-depleted animals.

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