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Cereb Cortex. 2000 Jan;10(1):23-31.

Experience-dependent plasticity of rat barrel cortex: redistribution of activity across barrel-columns.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, International School for Advanced Studies, Via Beirut 9, 34014 Trieste.


The redistribution of neuronal activity across rat barrel cortex following an alteration in whisker usage has been investigated. In adult rats, two mystacial vibrissae - D(2) and one neighbor, D(1) or D(3) - were left intact while all other vibrissae on that side of the snout were clipped. Neurons in contralateral barrel cortex were sampled with a microelectrode array 3.5 days later. Stimulation of clipped vibrissae produced a narrow spatial distribution of cortical activity, whereas stimulation of intact vibrissae produced a widened spatial distribution. Simultaneous recordings from multiple cortical barrel-columns suggest that changes in the effective connectivity between barrel-columns may partially account for this redistribution of sensory responses. Evidence is also presented for a second mechanism, a release from inhibition in sensory-deprived cortical areas. A model is therefore proposed where these two mechanisms operate together to regulate the cortical distribution of evoked activity.

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