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J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 15;22(18):8084-90.

Dark rearing alters the development of GABAergic transmission in visual cortex.

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Mind Brain Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


We studied the role of sensory experience in the maturation of GABAergic circuits in the rat visual cortex. Between the time at which the eyes first open and the end of the critical period for experience-dependent plasticity, the total GABAergic input converging into layer II/III pyramidal cells increases threefold. We propose that this increase reflects changes in the number of quanta released by presynaptic axons. Here, we show that the developmental increase in GABAergic input is prevented in animals deprived of light since birth but not in animals deprived of light after a period of normal experience. Thus, sensory experience appears to play a permissive role in the maturation of intracortical GABAergic circuits.

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