Distinct laminar requirements for nmda receptors in experience-dependent visual cortical plasticity

Ming Fai Fong, Peter S.B. Finnie, Taekeun Kim, Aurore Thomazeau, Eitan S. Kaplan, Samuel F. Cooke, Mark F. Bear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primary visual cortex (V1) is the locus of numerous forms of experience-dependent plasticity. Restricting visual stimulation to one eye at a time has revealed that many such forms of plasticity are eye-specific, indicating that synaptic modification occurs prior to binocular integration of thalamocortical inputs. A common feature of these forms of plasticity is the requirement for NMDA receptor (NMDAR) activation in V1.We therefore hypothesized that NMDARs in cortical layer 4 (L4), which receives the densest thalamocortical input, would be necessary for all forms of NMDAR-dependent and input-specific V1 plasticity.We tested this hypothesis in awake mice using a genetic approach to selectively delete NMDARs from L4 principal cells.We found, unexpectedly, that both stimulus-selective response potentiation and potentiation of open-eye responses following monocular deprivation (MD) persist in the absence of L4 NMDARs. In contrast, MD-driven depression of deprived-eye responses was impaired in mice lacking L4 NMDARs, as was L4 long-term depression in V1 slices. Our findings reveal a crucial requirement for L4 NMDARs in visual cortical synaptic depression, and a surprisingly negligible role for them in cortical response potentiation. These results demonstrate that NMDARs within distinct cellular subpopulations support different forms of experience-dependent plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2555-2572
Number of pages18
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Amblyopia
  • Long-term depression
  • NMDA receptor
  • Ocular dominance plasticity
  • Stimulus-selective response potentiation
  • Visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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