Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Puberty Impairs Plasticity

Science Signaling  23 Mar 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 114, pp. ec89
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3114ec89

While the existence of a period of reduced learning coinciding with the onset of puberty in mice is well characterized, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Shen et al. assessed the role of specific γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors for restricting hippocampal plasticity during puberty. At puberty, but not in adults or the very young, GABA receptors containing the α4 and δ subunits were targeted perisynaptically to excitatory synapses, shunting the depolarizing current necessary for N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation. As a consequence, signal transmission was affected and spatial learning reduced.

H. Shen, N. Sabaliauskas, A. Sherpa, A. A. Fenton, A. Stelzer, C. Aoki, S. S. Smith, A critical role for α4βδ GABAA receptors in shaping learning deficits at puberty in mice. Science 327, 1515–1518 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]