Are Beta Adrenoreceptors Involved in Visuocortical Plasticity?
In everyday life we adults learn many things, usually with great effort. On the other hand, children sometimes learn a few things very quickly without much effort, performing far better than adults. A good example is learning a spoken language which is different from one’s mother tongue. What can account for this age-dependent difference in learning? What makes performance of the immature brain more efficient than that of the mature one? There is no reason at the moment to believe the presence of totally independent neuronal machinery operating in the two brains. It seems to be practical, however, to treat them separately and devise paradigms which may test likely mechanisms or factors at the cellular level unique to each experimental condition. Thus, changes that occur in neuronal connections in the young brain during early postnatal or posthatching life, namely, critical period plasticity (e.g. Erzurumlu and Killackey, 1982; Kasamatsu, 1983), may be understood as an example of “involuntary learning” by an immature neuronal network during a process of its self-organization. This type of learning is possible for only young individuals and totally depends, within the ground framework defined by genetic constraint, on the sum of “experience” received by them. One cannot help drawing an analogy between critical period plasticity and state-dependent learning in adults.
KeywordsVisual Cortex Locus Coeruleus Striate Cortex Ocular Dominance Monocular Deprivation
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