Lynx1, a Cholinergic Brake, Limits Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex

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Science  11 Nov 2010:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195320


Experience-dependent brain plasticity typically declines after an early critical period during which circuits are established. Loss of plasticity with closure of the critical period limits improvement of function in adulthood, but the mechanisms that change the brain's plasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we identify an increase of Lynx1 protein in mice that prevents plasticity in the primary visual cortex late in life. Removal of this molecular brake enhances nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling. Lynx1 expression thus maintains stability of mature cortical networks in the presence of cholinergic innervation. The results support the balance between excitatory and inhibitory circuits as a therapeutic target, which lies at the root of visual plasticity.