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J Neurosci. 2011 May 25;31(21):7715-28. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1380-11.2011.

The timing for neuronal maturation in the adult hippocampus is modulated by local network activity.

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Laboratory of Neuronal Plasticity, Leloir Institute, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, 1405 Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The adult hippocampus continuously generates new cohorts of immature neurons with increased excitability and plasticity. The window for the expression of those unique properties in each cohort is determined by the time required to acquire a mature neuronal phenotype. Here, we show that local network activity regulates the rate of maturation of adult-born neurons along the septotemporal axis of the hippocampus. Confocal microscopy and patch-clamp recordings were combined to assess marker expression, morphological development, and functional properties in retrovirally labeled neurons over time. The septal dentate gyrus displayed higher levels of basal network activity and faster rates of newborn neuron maturation than the temporal region. Voluntary exercise enhanced network activity only in the temporal region and, in turn, accelerated neuronal development. Finally, neurons developing within a highly active environment exhibited a delayed maturation when their intrinsic electrical activity was reduced by the cell-autonomous overexpression of Kir2.1, an inward-rectifying potassium channel. Our findings reveal a novel type of activity-dependent plasticity acting on the timing of neuronal maturation and functional integration of newly generated neurons along the longitudinal axis of the adult hippocampus.

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