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Neuron. 1997 Sep;19(3):679-86.

Differential regulation of neocortical synapses by neuromodulators and activity.

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Department of Physiology, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


Synapses are continually regulated by chemical modulators and by their own activity. We tested the specificity of regulation in two excitatory pathways of the neocortex: thalamocortical (TC) synapses, which mediate specific inputs, and intracortical (IC) synapses, which mediate the recombination of cortical information. Frequency-sensitive depression was much stronger in TC synapses than in IC synapses. The two synapse types were differentially sensitive to presynaptic neuromodulators: only IC synapses were suppressed by activation of GABA(B) receptors, only TC synapses were enhanced by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors suppressed both synapse types. Modulators also differentially altered the frequency sensitivity of the synapses. Our results suggest a mechanism by which the relative strength and dynamics of input and associational pathways of neocortex are regulated during changes in behavioral state.

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