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 Collagen nanofibrils in mammalian tissues get stronger with exercise
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

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: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>