Pharmacological induction of use-dependent receptive field modifications in the visual cortex

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Science  07 Oct 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4875, pp. 74-77
DOI: 10.1126/science.2902687


Lasting modifications of the receptive fields of neurons in the visual cortex can be induced by pairing visual stimuli with iontophoretic application of the neuromodulators acetylcholine and noradrenaline or the excitatory amino acids N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and L-glutamate. The modifications are obtained in less than 1 hour and persist for more than 40 minutes. Thus, acetylcholine and norepinephrine have a permissive role in use-dependent neuronal plasticity. These results support the notion of a postsynaptic threshold for neuronal malleability that differs from that of sodium-dependent action potentials.