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Thalamic regulation of ocular dominance plasticity in adult visual cortex

Research group Heimel
Publication year 2023
Published in eLife
Authors Yi Qin, Mehran Ahmadlou, Samuel Suhai, Paul Neering, Leander de Kraker, J Alexander Heimel, Christiaan N Levelt

Experience-dependent plasticity in the adult visual system is generally thought of as a cortical process. However, several recent studies have shown that perceptual learning or monocular deprivation can also induce plasticity in the adult dorsolateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) of the thalamus. How plasticity in the thalamus and cortex interact in the adult visual system is ill-understood. To assess the influence of thalamic plasticity on plasticity in primary visual cortex (V1), we made use of our previous finding that during the critical period ocular dominance (OD) plasticity occurs in dLGN and requires thalamic synaptic inhibition. Using multielectrode recordings we find that this is also true in adult mice, and that in the absence of thalamic inhibition and plasticity, OD plasticity in adult V1 is absent. To study the influence of V1 on thalamic plasticity, we silenced V1 and show that during the critical period, but not in adulthood, the OD shift in dLGN is partially caused by feedback from V1. We conclude that during adulthood the thalamus plays an unexpectedly dominant role in experience-dependent plasticity in V1. Our findings highlight the importance of considering the thalamus as a potential source of plasticity in learning events that are typically thought of as cortical processes.

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