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Prog Brain Res. 2013;207:243-54. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63327-9.00002-3.

Mechanisms of plasticity in the developing and adult visual cortex.

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Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA. Electronic address:


The visual cortex provides powerful evidence for experience-dependent plasticity during development, and for stimulus and reinforcement-dependent plasticity in adulthood. The synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying such plasticity are being progressively understood. Increasing evidence supports the hypothesis that plasticity in both the developing and adult visual cortex is initiated by a transient reduction of inhibitory drive, and implemented by persistent changes at excitatory synapses. Developmental plasticity may be induced by alterations in the balance of activity from the two eyes and is implemented by a cascade of signals that lead to feedforward and feedback changes at synapses. Adult plasticity is imposed on mature synapses and requires additional neurotransmitter-dependent mechanisms that alter inhibition and subsequently response gain.


circuits; excitatory synapses; glutamate receptors; inhibition; ocular dominance plasticity; parvalbumin neurons; reinforcement learning; sensory cortex

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