Modifications of synaptic inputs and cell-intrinsic properties both contribute to neuronal plasticity and development. To better understand these mechanisms, we undertook an intracellular analysis of the development of direction selectivity in the ferret visual cortex, which occurs rapidly over a few days after eye opening. We found strong evidence of developmental changes in linear spatiotemporal receptive fields of simple cells, implying alterations in circuit inputs. Further, this receptive field plasticity was accompanied by increases in near-spike-threshold excitability and input-output gain that resulted in dramatically increased spiking responses in the experienced state. Increases in subthreshold membrane responses induced by the receptive field plasticity and the increased input-output spiking gain were both necessary to explain the elevated firing rates in experienced ferrets. These results demonstrate that cortical direction selectivity develops through a combination of plasticity in inputs and in cell-intrinsic properties.
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- Cortical development
- Direction selectivity
- Intrinsic excitability
- Primary visual cortex
- Sensory experience
- Spatiotemporal receptive fields
- Spike threshold