Experience-dependent plasticity of dendritic spines of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in the mouse cortex

Dev Neurobiol. 2016 Mar;76(3):277-286. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22313. Epub 2015 Jun 12.


Previous studies have shown that sensory and motor experiences play an important role in the remodeling of dendritic spines of layer 5 (L5) pyramidal neurons in the cortex. In this study, we examined the effects of sensory deprivation and motor learning on dendritic spine remodeling of layer 2/3 (L2/3) pyramidal neurons in the barrel and motor cortices. Similar to L5 pyramidal neurons, spines on apical dendrites of L2/3 pyramidal neurons are plastic during development and largely stable in adulthood. Sensory deprivation via whisker trimming reduces the elimination rate of existing spines without significant effect on the rate of spine formation in the developing barrel cortex. Furthermore, we show that motor training increases the formation and elimination of dendritic spines in the primary motor cortex. Unlike L5 pyramidal neurons, however, there is no significant difference in the rate of spine formation between sibling dendritic branches of L2/3 pyramidal neurons. Our studies indicate that sensory and motor learning experiences have important impact on dendritic spine remodeling in L2/3 pyramidal neurons. They also suggest that the rules governing experience-dependent spine remodeling are largely similar, but not identical, between L2/3 and L5 pyramidal neurons.

Keywords: dendritic spines; motor learning; spine remodeling; two-photon imaging; whisker trimming.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology*
  • Dendritic Spines / ultrastructure
  • Electroporation
  • Female
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*