Experience-dependent plasticity of adult-born neuron connectivity

Commun Integr Biol. 2015 Jun 23;8(3):e1038444. doi: 10.1080/19420889.2015.1038444. eCollection May-Jun 2015.


In contrast to most areas of the adult brain, the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus is endowed with the capability to generate new neurons life-long. While recent evidence suggests that these adult-born neurons exert specialized functions in information processing compared to pre-existing DG granule neurons, to which extent the establishment of their evolving connectivity may be regulated by experience has been elusive. We recently demonstrated that environmental enrichment (EE) induces a surprising input-specific reorganization of the presynaptic connectivity of adult-born neurons, and that this form of structural plasticity appears to large degree confined to a defined period of few weeks shortly after their generation. Here, I briefly discuss how these findings may uncover a previously unknown layer of complexity in the processes regulating the synaptic integration of adult-born neurons and propose that their circuit incorporation within the pre-existing hippocampal network is not prefigured but rather modulated by specific experiences.

Keywords: adult neurogenesis; experience; monosynaptic tracing; structural plasticity.