Spatial organization and transitions of spontaneous neuronal activities in the developing sensory cortex

Dev Growth Differ. 2021 Aug;63(6):323-339. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12739. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


The sensory cortex underlies our ability to perceive and interact with the external world. Sensory perceptions are controlled by specialized neuronal circuits established through fine-tuning, which relies largely on neuronal activity during the development. Spontaneous neuronal activity is an essential driving force of neuronal circuit refinement. At early developmental stages, sensory cortices display spontaneous activities originating from the periphery and characterized by correlated firing arranged spatially according to the modality. The firing patterns are reorganized over time and become sparse, which is typical for the mature brain. This review focuses mainly on rodent sensory cortices. First, the features of the spontaneous activities during early postnatal stages are described. Then, the developmental changes in the spatial organization of the spontaneous activities and the transition mechanisms involved are discussed. The identification of the principles controlling the spatial organization of spontaneous activities in the developing sensory cortex is essential to understand the self-organization process of neuronal circuits.

Keywords: activity-dependent development; in vivo calcium imaging; mouse; neuronal circuits; two-photon microscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Neurons*
  • Somatosensory Cortex*