Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 1998 Jun;79(6):3216-28.

Role of the basal forebrain cholinergic projection in somatosensory cortical plasticity.

Author information

Institute for Developmental Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


Trimming all but two whiskers in adult rats produces a predictable change in cortical cell-evoked responses characterized by increased responsiveness to the two intact whiskers and decreased responsiveness to the trimmed whiskers. This type of synaptic plasticity in rat somatic sensory cortex, called "whisker pairing plasticity," first appears in cells above and below the layer IV barrels. These are also the cortical layers that receive the densest cholinergic inputs from the nucleus basalis. The present study assesses whether the cholinergic inputs to cortex have a role in regulating whisker pairing plasticity. To do this, cholinergic basal forebrain fibers were eliminated using an immunotoxin specific for these fibers. A monoclonal antibody to the low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor 192 IgG, conjugated to the cytotoxin saporin, was injected into cortex to eliminate cholinergic fibers in the barrel field. The immunotoxin reduces acetylcholine esterase (AChE)-positive fibers in S1 cortex by >90% by 3 wk after injection. Sham-depleted animals in which either saporin alone or saporin unconjugated to 192 IgG is injected into the cortex produces no decrease in AChE-positive fibers in cortex. Sham-depleted animals show the expected plasticity in barrel column neurons. In contrast, no plasticity develops in the ACh-depleted, 7-day whisker-paired animals. These results support the conclusion that the basal forebrain cholinergic projection to cortex is an important facilitator of synaptic plasticity in mature cortex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center