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Cell. 1999 Sep 17;98(6):739-55.

BDNF regulates the maturation of inhibition and the critical period of plasticity in mouse visual cortex.

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Center for Learning and Memory, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Maturation of the visual cortex is influenced by visual experience during an early postnatal period. The factors that regulate such a critical period remain unclear. We examined the maturation and plasticity of the visual cortex in transgenic mice in which the postnatal rise of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was accelerated. In these mice, the maturation of GABAergic innervation and inhibition was accelerated. Furthermore, the age-dependent decline of cortical long-term potentiation induced by white matter stimulation, a form of synaptic plasticity sensitive to cortical inhibition, occurred earlier. Finally, transgenic mice showed a precocious development of visual acuity and an earlier termination of the critical period for ocular dominance plasticity. We propose that BDNF promotes the maturation of cortical inhibition during early postnatal life, thereby regulating the critical period for visual cortical plasticity.

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