Functional Selection of Adaptive Auditory Space Map by GABAA-Mediated Inhibition

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Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 962-965
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.962

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The external nucleus of the inferior colliculus in the barn owl contains an auditory map of space that is based on the tuning of neurons for interaural differences in the timing of sound. In juvenile owls, this region of the brain can acquire alternative maps of interaural time difference as a result of abnormal experience. It has been found that, in an external nucleus that is expressing a learned, abnormal map, the circuitry underlying the normal map still exists but is functionally inactivated by inhibition mediated by γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. This inactivation results from disproportionately strong inhibition of specific input channels to the network. Thus, experience-driven changes in patterns of inhibition, as well as adjustments in patterns of excitation, can contribute critically to adaptive plasticity in the central nervous system.

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

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