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J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 23;34(17):6078-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4919-12.2014.

Structural plasticity within the barrel cortex during initial phases of whisker-dependent learning.

Author information

1
Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia 20147, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, and Cardiff School of Bioscience, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, United Kingdom.

Abstract

We report learning-related structural plasticity in layer 1 branches of pyramidal neurons in the barrel cortex, a known site of sensorimotor integration. In mice learning an active, whisker-dependent object localization task, layer 2/3 neurons showed enhanced spine growth during initial skill acquisition that both preceded and predicted expert performance. Preexisting spines were stabilized and new persistent spines were formed. These findings suggest rapid changes in connectivity between motor centers and sensory cortex guide subsequent sensorimotor learning.

KEYWORDS:

barrel cortex; object localization; perceptual learning; plasticity

PMID:
24760867
PMCID:
PMC3996225
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4919-12.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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