Long-term depression induced by sensory deprivation during cortical map plasticity in vivo

Nat Neurosci. 2003 Mar;6(3):291-9. doi: 10.1038/nn1012.


Cortical map plasticity is thought to involve long-term depression (LTD) of cortical synapses, but direct evidence for LTD during plasticity or learning in vivo is lacking. One putative role for LTD is in the reduction of cortical responsiveness to behaviorally irrelevant or unused sensory stimuli, a common feature of map plasticity. Here we show that whisker deprivation, a manipulation that drives map plasticity in rat somatosensory cortex (S1), induces detectable LTD-like depression at intracortical excitatory synapses between cortical layer 4 (L4) and L2/3 pyramidal neurons. This synaptic depression occluded further LTD, enhanced LTP, was column specific, and was driven in part by competition between active and inactive whiskers. The synaptic locus of LTD and these properties suggest that LTD underlies the reduction of cortical responses to deprived whiskers, a major component of S1 map plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Vibrissae / physiology