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.

  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: