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Neural activity and the dynamics of central nervous system development

Abstract

Recent imaging studies show that the formation of neural connections in the central nervous system is a highly dynamic process. The iterative formation and elimination of synapses and neuronal branches result in the formation of a much larger number of trial connections than is maintained in the mature brain. Neural activity modulates development through biasing this process of formation and elimination, promoting the formation and stabilization of appropriate synaptic connections on the basis of functional activity patterns.

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Figure 1: Two models of neural development.
Figure 2: Time-lapse imaging experiments suggest that neural development is a highly dynamic process of concurrent formation and elimination.
Figure 3: Schematic diagram of the growth of a dendrite branch illustrating the synaptotropic hypothesis.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J.D. Jontes, L.C. Katz, E.I. Knudsen, L. Luo and J.T. Schmidt for discussions, members of the Smith lab for critical reading of the manuscript, and the US National Institutes of Health and the Vincent Coates Foundation for financial support. Y.H. was supported by a Stanford Graduate Fellowship and a Coates Foundation Fellowship.

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Hua, J., Smith, S. Neural activity and the dynamics of central nervous system development. Nat Neurosci 7, 327–332 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1218

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