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J Neurosci. 2014 Feb 19;34(8):2940-55. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2640-13.2014.

Binocular input coincidence mediates critical period plasticity in the mouse primary visual cortex.

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Institute of Neuroscience and State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China, State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China, and Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.


Classical studies on the development of ocular dominance (OD) organization in primary visual cortex (V1) have revealed a postnatal critical period (CP), during which visual inputs between the two eyes are most effective in shaping cortical circuits through synaptic competition. A brief closure of one eye during CP caused a pronounced shift of response preference of V1 neurons toward the open eye, a form of CP plasticity in the developing V1. However, it remains unclear what particular property of binocular inputs during CP is responsible for mediating this experience-dependent OD plasticity. Using whole-cell recording in mouse V1, we found that visually driven synaptic inputs from the two eyes to binocular cells in layers 2/3 and 4 became highly coincident during CP. Enhancing cortical GABAergic transmission activity by brain infusion with diazepam not only caused a precocious onset of the high coincidence of binocular inputs and OD plasticity in pre-CP mice, but rescued both of them in dark-reared mice, suggesting a tight link between coincident binocular inputs and CP plasticity. In Thy1-ChR2 mice, chronic disruption of this binocular input coincidence during CP by asynchronous optogenetic activation of retinal ganglion cells abolished the OD plasticity. Computational simulation using a feed-forward network model further suggests that the coincident inputs could mediate this CP plasticity through a homeostatic synaptic learning mechanism with synaptic competition. These results suggest that the high-level correlation of binocular inputs is a hallmark of the CP of developing V1 and serves as neural substrate for the induction of OD plasticity.


BCM theory; cortical inhibition; critical period; input coincidence; mouse primary visual cortex; ocular dominance plasticity

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