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J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 26;23(34):10765-75.

Progressive degradation and subsequent refinement of acoustic representations in the adult auditory cortex.

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Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0732, USA.


Correlated neuronal activity is believed to play an important role in refining and maintaining cortical circuitry during early development. Here we provide evidence that globally and locally correlated activity mediate different forms of adult plasticity. Pulses of broad-spectrum noise were used to activate time-locked responses across large areas of the rat auditory cortex, globally synchronizing cortical activity. Brief tone pips were used to activate relatively small groups of neurons, generating locally correlated activity. Pairing pulsed noises with nucleus basalis (NB) stimulation in awake rats for 4 weeks broadened spectral tuning, disrupted tonotopic maps, and reduced spontaneous discharge correlation in the primary auditory cortex (AI), as examined under anesthesia. Those effects caused AI neurons to appear qualitatively similar to neurons in nonprimary auditory fields of naive animals. Subsequent pairing of tone pips with NB stimulation for a period of 4 weeks completely reversed these effects induced by previous noise-NB pairing. These findings further demonstrate that the adult auditory cortex retains a substantial capacity for receptive field plasticity and tonotopic map reorganization and that locally correlated activity plays an important role in plasticity in the adult, as in the developing cortex.

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