Neonatal electrolytic lesions of the basal forebrain stunt plasticity in mouse barrel field cortex

Akira Nishimura, Christine F. Hohmann, Michael V. Johnston, Mary E. Blue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that neonatal electrolytic lesions of basal forebrain cholinergic projections in mice lead to a transient cholinergic depletion of neocortex and to permanent alterations in cortical cytoarchitecture and in cognitive performance. The present study examines whether neonatal electrolytic lesions of the basal forebrain modify neocortical plasticity. Using cytochrome oxidase histochemistry, we compared cross-sectional areas of individual barrels in the barrel field of four groups of postnatal day 8 (P8) old mice that on P1 received either (1) right electrolytic lesions of the basal forebrain, (2) left C row 1-4 whisker follicle ablations, (3) combined lesion treatments or (4) ice anesthesia only. The size of barrels in basal forebrain lesioned animals was not significantly different from controls. However, the plastic response to whisker removal was compromised in basal forebrain lesioned animals. An index of plasticity, the ratio of row D/row C areas, was reduced significantly in the combined nBM lesioned/follicle ablation group. Compared to whisker-lesioned mice, the expansion in rows B and D and the shrinkage in the lesioned row C area were diminished in the combined treatment group. The present findings correspond to those from a study of rats injected with a cholinergic immunotoxin [Cereb. Cortex 8 (1998) 63]. These results suggest that cholinergic inputs play a role in regulating plasticity as well as in the morphogenesis of mouse sensory-motor cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Cytochrome oxidase
  • Electrophysiological plasticity
  • Neocortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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