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Neuroimage. 2007 Jan 15;34(2):679-93. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Functional local connections with differential activity-dependence and critical periods surrounding the primary auditory cortex in rat cerebral slices.

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  • 1Department of Neurophysiology, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University, 1 Asahi-machi, Niigata 951-8585, Japan.


Sensory information is processed in neural networks connecting the primary sensory cortices with surrounding higher areas. Here, we investigated the properties of local connections between the primary auditory cortex (area 41) and surrounding areas (areas 20, 36, 18a and 39) in rat cerebral slices. Neural activities elicited by repetitive electrical stimulation were visualized using the activity-dependent changes in endogenous fluorescence derived from mitochondrial flavoproteins, which mostly reflect activities produced by polysynaptic glutamatergic transmission. Polysynaptic feedforward propagation was dominant compared with the corresponding polysynaptic feedback propagation between the primary (area 41) and secondary (areas 20 and 36) auditory cortices, while such a tendency was less clear in other pathways. Long inter-areal (>1 mm) propagation with the same dominancy was observed after layer V stimulation between areas 41 and 20, and was not affected by cutting the underlying white matter. Activity-dependent changes in neural activities induced by low-frequency stimulation in the presence of 1 microM bicuculline were investigated using Ca2+ imaging. Significant potentiation of the polysynaptic Ca2+ activities was only observed in polysynaptic feedforward pathways from the primary to secondary auditory cortices. Experience-dependence of the connections between areas 41 and 20 was investigated using flavoprotein fluorescence imaging. The activities from areas 41 to 20 were reduced by cochlear lesions produced at P12 but not at P28, while the activities from areas 20 to 41 were reduced by the lesions at P28, suggesting the critical period for the polysynaptic feedforward connection was before P28, while for the polysynaptic feedback connection was after P28.

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