Barrel cortex critical period plasticity is independent of changes in NMDA receptor subunit composition

Neuron. 2001 Nov 20;32(4):619-34. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00501-3.


The regulation of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) subunit composition and expression during development is thought to control the process of thalamocortical afferent innervation, segregation, and plasticity. Thalamocortical synaptic plasticity in the mouse is dependent on NMDARs containing the NR2B subunit, which are the dominant form during the "critical period" window for plasticity. Near the end of the critical period there is a gradual increase in the contribution of NR2A subunits that happens in parallel to changes in NMDAR-mediated current kinetics. However, no extension of the critical period occurs in NR2A knockout mice, despite the fact that NMDA subunit composition and current kinetics remain immature past the end of the critical period. These data suggest that regulation of NMDAR subunit composition is not essential for closing the critical period plasticity window in mouse somatosensory barrel cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Critical Period, Psychological*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, AMPA / genetics
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Somatosensory Cortex / growth & development*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Thalamus / growth & development
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • NR2B NMDA receptor
  • Piperidines
  • Quinoxalines
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • 2,3-dioxo-6-nitro-7-sulfamoylbenzo(f)quinoxaline
  • ifenprodil
  • N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype 2A