Activity-Dependent Cortical Target Selection by Thalamic Axons

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 559-562
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.559

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Connections in the developing nervous system are thought to be formed initially by an activity-independent process of axon pathfinding and target selection and subsequently refined by neural activity. Blockade of sodium action potentials by intracranial infusion of tetrodotoxin in cats during the early period when axons from the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) were in the process of selecting visual cortex as their target altered the pattern and precision of this thalamocortical projection. The majority of LGN neurons, rather than projecting to visual cortex, elaborated a significant projection within the subplate of cortical areas normally bypassed. Those axons that did project to their correct target were topographically disorganized. Thus, neural activity is required for initial targeting decisions made by thalamic axons as they traverse the subplate.

  • * Present address: Division of Biology, 216-76, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. E-mail: scatalan{at}

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: cshatz{at}

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