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Cereb Cortex. 2019 Oct 30. pii: bhz213. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz213. [Epub ahead of print]

Transient Subgranular Hyperconnectivity to L2/3 and Enhanced Pairwise Correlations During the Critical Period in the Mouse Auditory Cortex.

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Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology, and Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


During the critical period, neuronal connections are shaped by sensory experience. While the basis for this temporarily heightened plasticity remains unclear, shared connections introducing activity correlations likely play a key role. Thus, we investigated the changing intracortical connectivity in primary auditory cortex (A1) over development. In adult, layer 2/3 (L2/3) neurons receive ascending inputs from layer 4 (L4) and also receive few inputs from subgranular layer 5/6 (L5/6). We measured the spatial pattern of intracortical excitatory and inhibitory connections to L2/3 neurons in slices of mouse A1 across development using laser-scanning photostimulation. Before P11, L2/3 cells receive most excitatory input from within L2/3. Excitatory inputs from L2/3 and L4 increase after P5 and peak during P9-16. L5/6 inputs increase after P5 and provide most input during P12-16, the peak of the critical period. Inhibitory inputs followed a similar pattern. Functional circuit diversity in L2/3 emerges after P16. In vivo two-photon imaging shows low pairwise signal correlations in neighboring neurons before P11, which peak at P15-16 and decline after. Our results suggest that the critical period is characterized by high pairwise activity correlations and that transient hyperconnectivity of specific circuits, in particular those originating in L5/6, might play a key role.


Auditory cortex; cerebral cortex; circuits; correlation; critical period; development; intracortical; layer 2/3; layer 5/6; mouse; refinement; subgranular; transient


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