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Excitatory and inhibitory synapse reorganization immediately after critical sensory experience in a vocal learner


Huang, Ziqiang; Khaled, Houda G; Kirschmann, Moritz; Gobes, Sharon M H; Hahnloser, Richard H R (2018). Excitatory and inhibitory synapse reorganization immediately after critical sensory experience in a vocal learner. eLife, 7:e37571.

Abstract

Excitatory and inhibitory synapses are the brain’s most abundant synapse types. However, little is known about their formation during critical periods of motor skill learning, when sensory experience defines a motor target that animals strive to imitate. In songbirds, we find that exposure to tutor song leads to elimination of excitatory synapses in HVC (used here as a proper name), a key song generating brain area. A similar pruning is associated with song maturation, because juvenile birds have fewer excitatory synapses, the better their song imitations. In contrast, tutoring is associated with rapid insertion of inhibitory synapses, but the tutoring-induced structural imbalance between excitation and inhibition is eliminated during subsequent song maturation. Our work suggests that sensory exposure triggers the developmental onset of goal-specific motor circuits by increasing the relative strength of inhibition and it suggests a synapse-elimination model of song memorization.

Abstract

Excitatory and inhibitory synapses are the brain’s most abundant synapse types. However, little is known about their formation during critical periods of motor skill learning, when sensory experience defines a motor target that animals strive to imitate. In songbirds, we find that exposure to tutor song leads to elimination of excitatory synapses in HVC (used here as a proper name), a key song generating brain area. A similar pruning is associated with song maturation, because juvenile birds have fewer excitatory synapses, the better their song imitations. In contrast, tutoring is associated with rapid insertion of inhibitory synapses, but the tutoring-induced structural imbalance between excitation and inhibition is eliminated during subsequent song maturation. Our work suggests that sensory exposure triggers the developmental onset of goal-specific motor circuits by increasing the relative strength of inhibition and it suggests a synapse-elimination model of song memorization.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:12 Mar 2019 08:41
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 23:26
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications Ltd.
Series Name:eLife
ISSN:2050-084X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.37571

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