Developmental switch in the polarity of experience-dependent synaptic changes in layer 6 of mouse visual cortex

Emily Petrus, Terence T. Anguh, Huy Pho, Angela Lee, Nicholas Gammon, Hey Kyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Layer 6 (L6) of primary sensory cortices is distinct from other layers in that it provides a major cortical input to primary sensory thalamic nuclei. L6 pyramidal neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) send projections to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), as well as to the thalamic reticular nucleus and higher order thalamic nuclei. Although L6 neurons are proposed to modulate the activity of thalamic relay neurons, how sensory experience regulates L6 neurons is largely unknown. Several days of visual deprivation homeostatically adjusts excitatory synapses in L4 and L2/3 of V1 depending on the developmental age. For instance, L4 exhibits an early critical period during which visual deprivation homeostatically scales up excitatory synaptic transmission. On the other hand, homeostatic changes in L2/3 excitatory synapses are delayed and persist into adulthood. In the present study we examined how visual deprivation affects excitatory synapses on L6 pyramidal neurons. We found that L6 pyramidal neurons homeostatically increase the strength of excitatory synapses following 2 days of dark exposure (DE), which was readily reversed by 1 day of light exposure. This effect was restricted to an early critical period, similar to that reported for L4 neurons. However, at a later developmental age, a longer duration of DE (1 wk) decreased the strength of excitatory synapses, which reversed to normal levels with light exposure. These changes are opposite to what is predicted from the homeostatic plasticity theory. Our results suggest that L6 neurons differentially adjust their excitatory synaptic strength to visual deprivation depending on the age of the animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2499-2505
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Dark exposure
  • Development
  • Homeostatic plasticity
  • Synaptic scaling
  • Visual deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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