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J Neurosci. 2010 Jan 6;30(1):361-71. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2233-09.2010.

Reducing intracortical inhibition in the adult visual cortex promotes ocular dominance plasticity.

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Scuola Normale Superiore, 56126 Pisa, Italy.


Experience-dependent plasticity in the cortex is often higher during short critical periods in postnatal development. The mechanisms limiting adult cortical plasticity are still unclear. Maturation of intracortical GABAergic inhibition is suggested to be crucial for the closure of the critical period for ocular dominance (OD) plasticity in the visual cortex. We find that reduction of GABAergic transmission in the adult rat visual cortex partially reactivates OD plasticity in response to monocular deprivation (MD). This is accompanied by an enhancement of activity-dependent potentiation of synaptic efficacy but not of activity-dependent depression. We also found a decrease in the expression of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the visual cortex of MD animals with reduced inhibition, after the reactivation of OD plasticity. Thus, intracortical inhibition is a crucial limiting factor for the induction of experience-dependent plasticity in the adult visual cortex.

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