Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cortical plasticity: it's time to get excited about inhibition

25.08.2006
Brandeis research sheds new light on neural circuits

Research from Brandeis University published online this week in Nature offers new insight into how neural circuits are shaped by experience. The article provides new evidence for the mechanisms that affect the ability of the visual cortex to plastically rearrange itself following periods of visual deprivation.

"Getting our brains to wire up properly requires experience during an early critical period of development, and understanding the mechanisms of this experience-dependent plasticity is critical for understanding human development, its disorders, and for designing strategies that promote optimal cognitive development during early childhood," explained author and neuroscientist Gina Turrigiano.

Neuroscientists have long known that the brain needs proper sensory stimulation to develop correctly and that experience can induce plastical changes in the functional architecture of sensory cortices. Animals that grow up with one eye covered during a critical period of brain development lose some of their visual acuity and ability to respond to certain visual stimuli. In these experimental conditions, Turrigiano and colleagues explored the visual cortex circuit of young rats by recording electrical activity of neurons and their connections.

"We have found an important and novel mechanism involved in the loss of function of cortical circuits," said co-author neurophysiologist Arianna Maffei. "While our results directly apply to the loss of visual function secondary to sensory deprivation, they very likely represent a more general strategy for cortical networks to respond to experience."

The researchers showed that the lasting cortical shut-down induced by visual deprivation at early stages of development is the result of a massive increase of cortical inhibition. Specifically, the strength of inhibitory synaptic connections between two types of neurons in the layer receiving the input – the inhibitory fast-spiking basket cells and the excitatory star pyramidal neurons – increased 3-fold.

While it has been historically believed that regulation of excitatory synapses is most critical to the development of neuronal circuitry, and that loss of function is the result of a depression of excitation, this research demonstrates that inhibitory synapses play a critical role in proper network wiring and ultimately in preserving – or disrupting - neuronal function.

"Our data suggest a major revision of thinking about how experience works on our brains," noted Turrigiano. "Instead of targeting exclusively excitatory networks, a major locus of plasticity lies within the inhibitory networks. Our data show that inhibitory networks within the cortex are highly plastic, and that some pathological states arise through inappropriate activation of inhibitory plasticity."

Laura Gardner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brandeis.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies
30.03.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht 'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine
30.03.2017 | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>