Postnatal construction of neural circuitry in the mouse olfactory bulb.
We have undertaken a quantitative analysis of the mouse olfactory bulb to address several major questions concerning the development of neural circuitry in the postnatal mammalian brain. These are: (1) To what degree are new elements and circuits added during maturation? (2) How long do such processes go on? and (3) Does postnatal development involve a net addition of circuits and their constituent elements, or is there elimination of some portion of an initial surfeit? Using male mice of known age, weight, and length, we measured the overall size of the bulb, the numbers of processing units (glomeruli) within the bulb, the extent and complexity of postsynaptic dendrites within the glomeruli, and the number of synapses in different regions of the bulb. Between birth and the time mice reach sexual maturity at 6-7 weeks of age, the bulb increases in size by a factor of 8, the number of glomeruli by a factor of 4-5, the length of mitral cell dendritic branches by a factor of 11, and the number of glomerular and extraglomerular synapses by factors of 90 and 170, respectively. Each of these parameters increases steadily from birth, in concert with the enlargement of the olfactory mucosa, the overall growth of the brain, and indeed, of the entire animal. We found no evidence of an initial surfeit of processing units, dendritic branches, or synapses. Further elaboration of neural circuitry by each of these measures is also apparent from the time of sexual maturity until the animals reach their full adult size at about 10-12 weeks of age. The developmental strategy in this part of the mouse brain evidently involves prolonged construction that persists until the growth of the body is complete. This ongoing elaboration of neural circuitry in the postnatal mammalian brain may be relevant to understanding a number of unexplained developmental phenomena, including critical periods, the ability of the juvenile brain to recover from injuries that would cause severe and permanent deficits in older animals, and the special ability of the maturing brain to encode large amounts of new information.
Pomeroy, SL; LaMantia, AS; Purves, D
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