Cortical Synaptic AMPA Receptor Plasticity during Motor Learning

Richard H. Roth, Robert H. Cudmore, Han L. Tan, Ingie Hong, Yong Zhang, Richard L. Huganir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Modulation of synaptic strength through trafficking of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) is a fundamental mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. However, the dynamics of AMPAR trafficking in vivo and its correlation with learning have not been resolved. Here, we used in vivo two-photon microscopy to visualize surface AMPARs in mouse cortex during the acquisition of a forelimb reaching task. Daily training leads to an increase in AMPAR levels at a subset of spatially clustered dendritic spines in the motor cortex. Surprisingly, we also observed increases in spine AMPAR levels in the visual cortex. There, synaptic potentiation depends on the availability of visual input during motor training, and optogenetic inhibition of visual cortex activity impairs task performance. These results indicate that motor learning induces widespread cortical synaptic potentiation by increasing the net trafficking of AMPARs into spines, including in non-motor brain regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-908.e5
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 4 2020


  • AMPA receptors
  • long-term potentiation
  • motor cortex
  • motor learning
  • synaptic clustering
  • synaptic plasticity
  • two-photon imaging
  • visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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