Recently, a role for neurotrophins in regulating cortical developmental plasticity has clearly emerged. We present in this review a summary of the early data on the action of nerve growth factor (NGF) in visual cortical development and plasticity in the rat and of other neurotrophins in the visual cortex of other mammals. In addition, to clarify the differences in the results obtained with the various neurotrophins in different animal preparations, we also report new data on the action of NGF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin (NT)3, and NT4 in the same preparation-namely, the visual cortex of the rat. We discuss old and new results in a physiological model in which different neurotrophins play different roles in regulating visual cortical development and plasticity by acting on different neural targets, such as lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) afferents, intracortical circuitry, and subcortical afferents, and propose a tentative scheme summarizing these actions.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.