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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Nov;35(10):2105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

Development of auditory cortical synaptic receptive fields.

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Molecular Neurobiology Program, the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine/Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, Departments of Otolaryngology, Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The central nervous system is plastic throughout life, but is most sensitive to the statistics of the sensory environment during critical periods of early postnatal development. In the auditory cortex, various forms of acoustic experience have been found to shape the formation of receptive fields and influence the overall rate of cortical organization. The synaptic mechanisms that control cortical receptive field plasticity are beginning to be described, particularly for frequency tuning in rodent primary auditory cortex. Inhibitory circuitry plays a major role in critical period regulation, and new evidence suggests that the formation of excitatory-inhibitory balance determines the duration of critical period plasticity for auditory cortical frequency tuning. Cortical inhibition is poorly tuned in the infant brain, but becomes co-tuned with excitation in an experience-dependent manner over the first postnatal month. We discuss evidence suggesting that this may be a general feature of the developing cortex, and describe the functional implications of such transient excitatory-inhibitory imbalance.

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