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Prog Brain Res. 2011;191:119-31. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53752-2.00009-6.

Lifelong plasticity in the rat auditory cortex: basic mechanisms and role of sensory experience.

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Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


The rodent auditory cortex has provided a particularly useful model for studying cortical plasticity phenomenology and mechanisms, both in infant and in adult animal models. Much of our initial understanding of the neurological processes underlying learning-induced changes in the cortex stems from the early exploitation of this model. More recent studies have provided a rich and elaborate demonstration of the "rules" governing representational plasticity induced during the critical period (CP) and in the longer post-CP "adult" plasticity epoch. These studies have also contributed importantly to the application of these "rules" to the development of practical training tools designed to improve the functional capacities of the auditory, language, and reading capacities of both children with developmental impairments and adults with acquired impairments in the auditory/aural speed and related cognitive domains. Using age as a connecting thread, we review recent studies performed in the rat primary auditory cortex (A1) that have provided further insight into the role of sensory experience in the shaping auditory signal representations, and into their possible role in shaping the machinery that regulates "adult" plasticity in A1. With this background, the role of auditory training in the remediation of auditory processing impairments is briefly discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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