Freeing the Brain from the Perineuronal Net

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Science  08 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5596, pp. 1187-1189
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079224

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The brains of young mammals are remarkably plastic, but this plasticity is lost in the adult. In their Perspective, Fox and Caterson discuss an intriguing new study (Pizzorusso et al.) that attempts to restore plasticity to the visual cortex of adult rats. The authors of the study were able to restore plasticity after injecting into the adult rat visual cortex an enzyme (chondroitinase ABC) that degrades the extracellular matrix surrounding neurons and blocking axonal extension.