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Electrical activity and development of neural circuits

Abstract

A distinct feature of the nervous system is the intricate network of synaptic connections among neurons of diverse phenotypes. Although initial connections are formed largely through molecular mechanisms that depend on intrinsic developmental programs, spontaneous and experience-driven electrical activities in the developing brain exert critical epigenetic influence on synaptic maturation and refinement of neural circuits. Selective findings discussed here illustrate some of our current understanding of the effects of electrical activity on circuit development and highlight areas that await further study.

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Figure 1: Potential cellular effects of electrical activity.

Amy Center

Figure 2: The critical window for activity-dependent modification of developing retinotectal synapses.

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Acknowledgements

We thank H.W. Tao, K.D. Miller and R. Kempter for discussions.

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Zhang, L., Poo, Mm. Electrical activity and development of neural circuits. Nat Neurosci 4, 1207–1214 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn753

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