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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):298-304. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.05.010. Epub 2009 Jun 18.

Advances in understanding visual cortex plasticity.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, Neuroscience Center, Curriculum in Neurobiology, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7545, USA.


Visual cortical plasticity can be either rapid, occurring in response to abrupt changes in neural activity, or slow, occurring over days as a homeostatic process for adapting neuronal responsiveness. Recent advances have shown that the magnitude and polarity of rapid synaptic modifications are regulated by neuromodulators, while homeostatic modifications can occur through regulation of cytokine actions or N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit composition. Synaptic and homeostatic plasticity together produce the normal physiological response to monocular impairments. In vivo studies have now overturned the dogma that robust plasticity is limited to an early critical period. Indeed, rapid physiological plasticity in the adult can be enabled by prior, experience-driven anatomical rearrangements or through pharmacological manipulations of the epigenome.

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