Modulation of spike timing by sensory deprivation during induction of cortical map plasticity

Nat Neurosci. 2004 May;7(5):534-41. doi: 10.1038/nn1222. Epub 2004 Apr 4.


Deprivation-induced plasticity of sensory cortical maps involves long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) of cortical synapses, but how sensory deprivation triggers LTP and LTD in vivo is unknown. Here we tested whether spike timing-dependent forms of LTP and LTD are involved in this process. We measured spike trains from neurons in layer 4 (L4) and layers 2 and 3 (L2/3) of rat somatosensory cortex before and after acute whisker deprivation, a manipulation that induces whisker map plasticity involving LTD at L4-to-L2/3 (L4-L2/3) synapses. Whisker deprivation caused an immediate reversal of firing order for most L4 and L2/3 neurons and a substantial decorrelation of spike trains, changes known to drive timing-dependent LTD at L4-L2/3 synapses in vitro. In contrast, spike rate changed only modestly. Thus, whisker deprivation is likely to drive map plasticity by spike timing-dependent mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / radiation effects
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reaction Time
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Vibrissae / physiology