Manipulating critical period closure across different sectors of the primary auditory cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2008 Aug;11(8):957-65. doi: 10.1038/nn.2144. Epub 2008 Jul 6.


During early brain development and through 'adult' experience-dependent plasticity, neural circuits are shaped to represent the external world with high fidelity. When raised in a quiet environment, the rat primary auditory cortex (A1) has a well-defined 'critical period', lasting several days, for its representation of sound frequency. The addition of environmental noise extends the critical period duration as a variable function of noise level. It remains unclear whether critical period closure should be regarded as a unified, externally gated event that applies for all of A1 or if it is controlled by progressive, local, activity-driven changes in this cortical area. We found that rearing rats in the presence of a spectrally limited noise band resulted in the closure of the critical period for A1 sectors representing the noise-free spectral bands, whereas the critical period appeared to remain open in noise-exposed sectors, where the cortex was still functionally and physically immature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Cortex / growth & development
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Critical Period, Psychological*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Hearing Tests
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Noise
  • Parvalbumins / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Parvalbumins