Newly Learned Auditory Responses Mediated by NMDA Receptors in the Owl Inferior Colliculus

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Science  26 Jan 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5248, pp. 525-528
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5248.525


Alignment of auditory and visual receptive fields in the optic tectum of the barn owl (Tyto alba) is maintained through experience-dependent modification of auditory responses in the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICX), which provides auditory input to the tectum. Newly learned tectal auditory responses, induced by altered visual experience, were found to be pharmacologically distinct from normal responses expressed at the same tectal sites. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists administered systemically or applied locally in the ICX reduced learned responses more than normal responses. This differential blockade was not observed with non-NMDA or broad-spectrum antagonists. Thus, NMDA receptors preferentially mediate the expression of novel neuronal responses induced by experience during development.