, Volume 231, Issue 8, pp 1789-1796
Date: 02 Aug 2013

Emergence of GABAergic-dependent regulation of input-specific plasticity in the adult rat prefrontal cortex during adolescence

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The prefrontal cortex (PFC) receives multiple cortical and subcortical afferents that regulate higher order cognitive functions, many of which emerge late in adolescence. However, it remains unclear how these afferents influence PFC processing, especially in light of the protracted, late adolescent maturation of prefrontal GABAergic function. Here we investigated the role of PFC GABAergic transmission in regulating plasticity elicited from the ventral hippocampus and basolateral amygdala, and how such modulation undergoes functional changes during adolescence in rats.


In vivo local field potential recordings, combined with prefrontal microinfusion of the GABA-A receptor antagonist picrotoxin, were employed to study the impact of ventral hippocampal and basolateral amygdala high-frequency stimulation on PFC plasticity.


Ventral hippocampal-induced PFC plasticity begins to appear only by postnatal days (P) 45–55 with a transient suppression of the evoked response. A switch from transient to long-lasting depression (LTD) of the PFC response emerges after P55 and throughout adulthood (P65–120). Recordings conducted in the presence of picrotoxin revealed that PFC GABAergic transmission is critical for the expression of LTD. In contrast, basolateral amygdala stimulation resulted in PFC long-term potentiation, a form of plasticity that is already enabled by P30 and is insensitive to picrotoxin.


The development of ventral hippocampal-dependent PFC LTD is contingent upon the recruitment of local prefrontal GABAergic transmission during adolescence whereas plasticity elicited from the basolateral amygdala is not. Thus, different mechanisms contribute to the refinement of prefrontal plasticity during adolescence as inputs from these two regions are critical for shaping PFC functions.

Adriana Caballero and Daniel R. Thomases are joint first authors.