Sensory loss leads to widespread adaptation of brain circuits to allow an organism to navigate its environment with its remaining senses, which is broadly referred to as cross-modal plasticity. Such adaptation can be observed even in the primary sensory cortices, and falls into two distinct categories: recruitment of the deprived sensory cortex for processing the remaining senses, which we term 'cross-modal recruitment', and experience-dependent refinement of the spared sensory cortices referred to as 'compensatory plasticity.' Here we will review recent studies demonstrating that cortical adaptation to sensory loss involves LTP/LTD and homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Cross-modal synaptic plasticity is observed in adults, hence cross-modal sensory deprivation may be an effective way to promote plasticity in adult primary sensory cortices.
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