Cell-specific restoration of stimulus preference after monocular deprivation in the visual cortex

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1319-1322
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3358

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Ocular dominance plasticity reconsidered

How neuronal circuits are established and reformed during development and learning is unclear. One idea is that cortical circuits have virtually unlimited plasticity and are rebuilt routinely from random components. An alternative view is that some of these connections are more or less preformed and rigid. Working in mice, Rose et al. looked at how visual cortical neurons change their response after monocular deprivation. After recovery, the response properties of the neurons returned to their pre-deprivation pattern. Thus, it is not the strong connectivity backbone but perhaps inhibitory and weaker connections that are changed temporarily during sensory deprivation, whereas a core circuitry returns to default mode even after several days of altered activity.

Science, this issue p. 1319


Monocular deprivation evokes a prominent shift of neuronal responses in the visual cortex toward the open eye, accompanied by functional and structural synaptic rearrangements. This shift is reversible, but it is unknown whether the recovery happens at the level of individual neurons or whether it reflects a population effect. We used ratiometric Ca2+ imaging to follow the activity of the same excitatory layer 2/3 neurons in the mouse visual cortex over months during repeated episodes of ocular dominance (OD) plasticity. We observed robust shifts toward the open eye in most neurons. Nevertheless, these cells faithfully returned to their pre-deprivation OD during binocular recovery. Moreover, the initial network correlation structure was largely recovered, suggesting that functional connectivity may be regained despite prominent experience-dependent plasticity.

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