Experience-dependent plasticity of rat barrel cortex: redistribution of activity across barrel-columns

Cereb Cortex. 2000 Jan;10(1):23-31. doi: 10.1093/cercor/10.1.23.


The redistribution of neuronal activity across rat barrel cortex following an alteration in whisker usage has been investigated. In adult rats, two mystacial vibrissae - D(2) and one neighbor, D(1) or D(3) - were left intact while all other vibrissae on that side of the snout were clipped. Neurons in contralateral barrel cortex were sampled with a microelectrode array 3.5 days later. Stimulation of clipped vibrissae produced a narrow spatial distribution of cortical activity, whereas stimulation of intact vibrissae produced a widened spatial distribution. Simultaneous recordings from multiple cortical barrel-columns suggest that changes in the effective connectivity between barrel-columns may partially account for this redistribution of sensory responses. Evidence is also presented for a second mechanism, a release from inhibition in sensory-deprived cortical areas. A model is therefore proposed where these two mechanisms operate together to regulate the cortical distribution of evoked activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reaction Time
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Vibrissae / physiology