Original Article

Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 217, Issue 2, pp 435-446

First online:

Sensory deprivation differentially impacts the dendritic development of pyramidal versus non-pyramidal neurons in layer 6 of mouse barrel cortex

  • Chia-Chien ChenAffiliated withNeuropsychology Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate Center
  • , Danny TamAffiliated withNeuropsychology Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate Center
  • , Joshua C. BrumbergAffiliated withNeuropsychology Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate CenterDepartment of Psychology, Queens College Email author 

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Early postnatal sensory experience can have profound impacts on the structure and function of cortical circuits affecting behavior. Using the mouse whisker-to-barrel system we chronically deprived animals of normal sensory experience by bilaterally trimming their whiskers every other day from birth for the first postnatal month. Brain tissue was then processed for Golgi staining and neurons in layer 6 of barrel cortex were reconstructed in three dimensions. Dendritic and somatic parameters were compared between sensory-deprived and normal sensory experience groups. Results demonstrated that layer 6 non-pyramidal neurons in the chronically deprived group showed an expansion of their dendritic arbors. The pyramidal cells responded to sensory deprivation with increased somatic size and basilar dendritic arborization but overall decreased apical dendritic parameters. In sum, sensory deprivation impacted on the neuronal architecture of pyramidal and non-pyramidal neurons in layer 6, which may provide a substrate for observed physiological and behavioral changes resulting from whisker trimming.


Neocortex layer 6 Golgi Neuronal morphology Barrel cortex Sensory deprivation Dendrites