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Neuron. 2001 Jan;29(1):157-69.

Visual experience and deprivation bidirectionally modify the composition and function of NMDA receptors in visual cortex.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Box 1953, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


The receptive fields of visual cortical neurons are bidirectionally modified by sensory deprivation and experience, but the synaptic basis for these changes is unknown. Here we demonstrate bidirectional, experience-dependent regulation of the composition and function of synaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs) in visual cortex layer 2/3 pyramidal cells of young rats. Visual experience decreases the proportion of NR2B-only receptors, shortens the duration of NMDAR-mediated synaptic currents, and reduces summation of synaptic NMDAR currents during bursts of high-frequency stimulation. Visual deprivation exerts an opposite effect. Although the effects of experience and deprivation are reversible, the rates of synaptic modification vary. Experience can induce a detectable change in synaptic transmission within hours, while deprivation-induced changes take days. We suggest that experience-dependent changes in NMDAR composition and function regulate the development of receptive field organization in visual cortex.

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