Cortical Development

Volume 39 of the series Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation pp 139-156

Role of Afferent Activity in the Development of Cortical Specification

  • Alvin W. LyckmanAffiliated withThe Center for Learning and Memory
  • , Mriganka SurAffiliated withThe Center for Learning and MemoryDepartment of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, E25-235

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The surgical cross-modal rewiring paradigm is an experimental method for examining the physiological and anatomical consequences of exposing developing cortical subregions to specific types of patterned sensory inputs. Data from these experiments provide strong inferences about the role of extrinsic (subcortical) cortical inputs in shaping the local cortical networks that organize and process sensory information. Behavioral results from this work also suggest that such activity (and activity in general) is a profound organizer of cerebral connectivity. We discuss one future direction of these studies: the implication that extrinsic inputs regulate developmental genes that are responsible for refining the connectivity within local circuits, and a strategy to discover and characterize such genes.