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J Neurosci. 1996 May 15;16(10):3274-86.

Experience-dependent plasticity of binocular responses in the primary visual cortex of the mouse.

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Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0444, USA.


An activity-dependent form of synaptic plasticity underlies the fine tuning of connections in the developing primary visual cortex of mammals such as the cat and monkey. Studies of the effects of manipulations of visual experience during a critical period have demonstrated that a correlation-based competitive process governs this plasticity. The cellular mechanisms underlying this competition, however, are poorly understood. Transgenic and gene-targeting technologies have led to the development of a new category of reagents that have the potential to help answer questions of cellular mechanism, provided that the questions can be studied in a mouse model. The current study attempts to characterize a developmental plasticity in the mouse primary visual cortex and to demonstrate its relevance to that found in higher mammals. We found that 4 d of monocular lid suture at postnatal day 28 (P28) induced a maximal loss of responsiveness of cortical neurons to the deprived eye. These ocular dominance shifts occurred during a well-defined critical period, between P19 and P32. Furthermore, binocular deprivation during this critical period did not decrease visual cortical responses, and alternating monocular deprivation resulted in a decrease in the number of binocularly responsive neurons. Finally, a laminar analysis demonstrated plasticity of both geniculocortical and intracortical connections. These results demonstrate that an activity-dependent, competitive form of synaptic plasticity that obeys correlation-based rules operates in the developing primary visual cortex of the mouse.

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