Sci. STKE, 16 March 2004
NEUROBIOLOGY Remodeling the Visual Cortex
The portions of the mammalian brain's cortex responsible for interpreting visual input undergo continued refinement after birth. Indeed, a critical period of unusual plasticity exists during which visual experience can alter development. Two studies have used benzodiazepines, which disrupt GABAergic signaling, to dissect the mechanisms involved (see the Perspective by Ferster). Hensch and Stryker show that the physical architecture of columns in the neocortex typical of a brain experiencing appropriately balanced vision is altered in response to benzodiazepine treatment. Fagiolini et al. show that benzodiazepines can affect the timing of the critical period via affects on a subset of -aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors containing the α1 subunit. Thus, GABAergic signaling contributes both to the formation of columnar architecture and to the timing of the critical period.
Citation: Remodeling the Visual Cortex. Sci. STKE 2004, tw99 (2004).
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