Long-term in vivo imaging of experience-dependent synaptic plasticity in adult cortex.


Journal Article

Do new synapses form in the adult cortex to support experience-dependent plasticity? To address this question, we repeatedly imaged individual pyramidal neurons in the mouse barrel cortex over periods of weeks. We found that, although dendritic structure is stable, some spines appear and disappear. Spine lifetimes vary greatly: stable spines, about 50% of the population, persist for at least a month, whereas the remainder are present for a few days or less. Serial-section electron microscopy of imaged dendritic segments revealed retrospectively that spine sprouting and retraction are associated with synapse formation and elimination. Experience-dependent plasticity of cortical receptive fields was accompanied by increased synapse turnover. Our measurements suggest that sensory experience drives the formation and elimination of synapses and that these changes might underlie adaptive remodelling of neural circuits.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Trachtenberg, JT; Chen, BE; Knott, GW; Feng, G; Sanes, JR; Welker, E; Svoboda, K

Published Date

  • December 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 420 / 6917

Start / End Page

  • 788 - 794

PubMed ID

  • 12490942

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12490942

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-4687

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0028-0836

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nature01273


  • eng