Letter | Published:

Removal of whiskers in young rats causes functional changes in cerebral cortex

Nature volume 274, pages 600602 (10 August 1978) | Download Citation

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Abstract

SENSORY deprivation or deafferentation has been shown to result in a variety of changes within the mammalian central nervous system (CNS)1,2. Although the majority of the studies have been anatomical in nature, recordings from cells in the visual cortex have shown that functional modifications also occur as a consequence of a deprived or abnormal visual experience in early life3–6. Moreover, alterations in neural responses are found in the somatosensory system7–9 following removal of input from the hind leg. We report here functional changes in the rat cortex resulting from early destruction of the whiskers. The region of the rat cortex receiving the sensory input from the whiskers contains aggregations of cells known as barrels and these aggregations do not develop if the corresponding whiskers are destroyed soon after birth10–13. We have found that such whisker removal also causes the associated cortical cells to become functionally reconnected with regions of the face surrounding the whiskers.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physiology, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • PHIL M. E. WAITE
    •  & PETER K. TAYLOR

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/274600a0

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