Article abstract


Nature Neuroscience 11, 957 - 965 (2008)
Published online: 6 July 2008 | doi:10.1038/nn.2144

Manipulating critical period closure across different sectors of the primary auditory cortex

Etienne de Villers-Sidani1, Kimberly L Simpson2, Y-F Lu2, Rick C S Lin2 & Michael M Merzenich1


During early brain development and through 'adult' experience-dependent plasticity, neural circuits are shaped to represent the external world with high fidelity. When raised in a quiet environment, the rat primary auditory cortex (A1) has a well-defined 'critical period', lasting several days, for its representation of sound frequency. The addition of environmental noise extends the critical period duration as a variable function of noise level. It remains unclear whether critical period closure should be regarded as a unified, externally gated event that applies for all of A1 or if it is controlled by progressive, local, activity-driven changes in this cortical area. We found that rearing rats in the presence of a spectrally limited noise band resulted in the closure of the critical period for A1 sectors representing the noise-free spectral bands, whereas the critical period appeared to remain open in noise-exposed sectors, where the cortex was still functionally and physically immature.

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  1. W.M. Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, Coleman Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology, University of California, San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Avenue, Room HSE-808, Box 0732, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
  2. Departments of Anatomy, Psychiatry & Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39216, USA.

Correspondence to: Etienne de Villers-Sidani1 e-mail: etienne@phy.ucsf.edu