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Journal Article

Long-term modification of cortical synapses improves sensory perception

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Barker,  Alison J.
Social Systems and Circuits Group, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Max Planck Society;
Department of Otolaryngology, Coleman Memorial Laboratory and W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, Neuroscience Graduate Group, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA;

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Citation

Froemke, R. C., Carcea, I., Barker, A. J., Yuan, K., Seybold, B. A., O Martins, A. R., et al. (2013). Long-term modification of cortical synapses improves sensory perception. Nat. Neurosci., 16, 79-88. doi:10.1038/nn.3274.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-63E4-6
Abstract
Synapses and receptive fields of the cerebral cortex are plastic. However, changes to specific inputs must be coordinated within neural networks to ensure that excitability and feature selectivity are appropriately configured for perception of the sensory environment. We induced long-lasting enhancements and decrements to excitatory synaptic strength in rat primary auditory cortex by pairing acoustic stimuli with activation of the nucleus basalis neuromodulatory system. Here we report that these synaptic modifications were approximately balanced across individual receptive fields, conserving mean excitation while reducing overall response variability. Decreased response variability should increase detection and recognition of near-threshold or previously imperceptible stimuli. We confirmed both of these hypotheses in behaving animals. Thus, modification of cortical inputs leads to wide-scale synaptic changes, which are related to improved sensory perception and enhanced behavioral performance.