Functional maps in the cerebral cortex reorganize in response to changes in experience, but the synaptic underpinnings remain uncertain. Here, we demonstrate that layer (L) 2/3 pyramidal cell synapses in mouse barrel cortex can be potentiated upon pairing of whisker-evoked postsynaptic potentials (PSPs) with action potentials (APs). This spike-timing-dependent long-term potentiation (STD-LTP) was only effective for PSPs evoked by deflections of a whisker in the neuron's receptive field center, and not its surround. Trimming of all except two whiskers rapidly opened the possibility to drive STD-LTP by the spared surround whisker. This facilitated STD-LTP was associated with a strong decrease in the surrounding whisker-evoked inhibitory conductance and partially occluded picrotoxin-mediated LTP facilitation. Taken together, our data demonstrate that sensory deprivation-mediated disinhibition facilitates STD-LTP from the sensory surround, which may promote correlation- and experience-dependent expansion of receptive fields.
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