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Lynx1, a Cholinergic Brake, Limits Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex

Science, 26 November 2010
Vol. 330, Issue 6008, p. 1238-1240
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195320

Lynx1, a Cholinergic Brake, Limits Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex

  1. Hirofumi Morishita1,
  2. Julie M. Miwa2,3,
  3. Nathaniel Heintz3,
  4. Takao K. Hensch1,4,*
  1. 1FM Kirby Neurobiology Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  2. 2Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
  3. 3Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA.
  4. 4Center for Brain Science, Department of Molecular Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 52 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
  1. *To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: takao.hensch{at}


Experience-dependent brain plasticity typically declines after an early critical period during which circuits are established. Loss of plasticity with closure of the critical period limits improvement of function in adulthood, but the mechanisms that change the brain’s plasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we identified an increase in expression of Lynx1 protein in mice that prevented plasticity in the primary visual cortex late in life. Removal of this molecular brake enhanced nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling. Lynx1 expression thus maintains stability of mature cortical networks in the presence of cholinergic innervation. The results suggest that modulating the balance between excitatory and inhibitory circuits reactivates visual plasticity and may present a therapeutic target.

  • Received for publication 19 July 2010.
  • Accepted for publication 28 September 2010.


H. Morishita, J. M. Miwa, N. Heintz, and T. K. Hensch, Lynx1, a Cholinergic Brake, Limits Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex. Science 330, 1238-1240 (2010).

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