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Early Gamma Oscillations Synchronize Developing Thalamus and Cortex

Science  14 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6053, pp. 226-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210574

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Abstract

During development, formation of topographic maps in sensory cortex requires precise temporal binding in thalamocortical networks. However, the physiological substrate for such synchronization is unknown. We report that early gamma oscillations (EGOs) enable precise spatiotemporal thalamocortical synchronization in the neonatal rat whisker sensory system. Driven by a thalamic gamma oscillator and initially independent of cortical inhibition, EGOs synchronize neurons in a single thalamic barreloid and corresponding cortical barrel and support plasticity at developing thalamocortical synapses. We propose that the multiple replay of sensory input in thalamocortical circuits during EGOs allows thalamic and cortical neurons to be organized into vertical topographic functional units before the development of horizontal binding in adult brain.

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