Sensory experience is necessary for normal cortical development. This has been shown by sensory deprivation and pharmacological perturbation of the cortex. Because these manipulations affect the cortical network as a whole, the role of postsynaptic cellular properties during experience-dependent development is unclear. Here we addressed the developmental role of somatodendritic excitability, which enables postsynaptic spike timing-dependent forms of plasticity, in rat somatosensory cortex. We used short interfering RNA (siRNA)-based knockdown of Na+ channels to suppress the somatodendritic excitability of small numbers of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in the barrel cortex, without altering the ascending sensory pathway. In vivo recordings from siRNA-expressing cells revealed that this manipulation interfered with the normal developmental strengthening of sensory responses. The sensory responsiveness of neighboring cortical neurons was unchanged, indicating that the cortical network was unchanged. We conclude that somatodendritic excitability of the postsynaptic neuron is needed for the regulation of synaptic strength in the developing sensory cortex.,
Nature Neuroscience
Department of Neuroscience

Komai, S., Licznerski, P., Cetin, A., Waters, J., Denk, B., Brecht, M., & Osten, P. (2006). Postsynaptic excitability is necessary for strengthening of cortical sensory responses during experience-dependent development. Nature Neuroscience, 9(9), 1125–1133. doi:10.1038/nn1752