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Nat Neurosci. 2006 May;9(5):650-9. Epub 2006 Apr 2.

Effects of visual experience on activity-dependent gene regulation in cortex.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, 220 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


There are critical periods in development when sensory experience directs the maturation of synapses and circuits within neocortex. We report that the critical period in mouse visual cortex has a specific molecular logic of gene regulation. Four days of visual deprivation regulated one set of genes during the critical period, and different sets before or after. Dark rearing perturbed the regulation of these age-specific gene sets. In addition, a 'common gene set', comprised of target genes belonging to a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling pathway, was regulated by vision at all ages but was impervious to prior history of sensory experience. Together, our results demonstrate that vision has dual effects on gene regulation in visual cortex and that sensory experience is needed for the sequential acquisition of age-specific, but not common, gene sets. Thus, a dynamic interplay between experience and gene expression drives activity-dependent circuit maturation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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