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Journal Article

Excitation and Inhibition Jointly Regulate Cortical Reorganization in Adult Rats

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Benali, A., Weiler, E., Benali, Y., Dinse, H., & Eysel, U. (2008). Excitation and Inhibition Jointly Regulate Cortical Reorganization in Adult Rats. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28(47), 12284-12293. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1952-08.2008.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-2C6C-4
The primary somatosensory cortex (SI) retains its capability for cortical reorganization after injury or differential use into adulthood. The plastic response of SI cells to peripheral stimulation is characterized by extension of cortical representations accompanied by changes of the receptive field size of neurons. We used intracortical microstimulation that is known to enforce local, intracortical synchronous activity, to induce cortical reorganization and applied immunohistochemical methods in the same individual animals to investigate how plasticity in the cortical topographic maps is linked to changes in the spatial layout of the inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter systems. The results reveal a differential spatiotemporal pattern of upregulation and downregulation of specific factors for an excitatory (glutamatergic) and an inhibitory (GABAergic) system, associated with changes of receptive field size and reorganization of the somatotopic map in the rat SI. Predominantly local mechanisms are the specific reduction of the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin in inhibitory neurons and the low expression of the activity marker c-Fos. Reorganization in the hindpaw representation and in the adjacent SI cortical areas (motor cortex and parietal cortex) is accompanied by a major increase of the excitatory transmitter glutamate and c-Fos. The spatial extent of the reorganization appears to be limited by an increase of glutamic acid decarboxylase and the inhibitory transmitter GABA. The local and medium-range net effects are excitatory and can facilitate receptive field enlargements and cortical map expansion. The longer-range increase of inhibition appears suited to limit these effects and to prevent neurons from pathological hyperexcitability.