Morphology of layer III pyramidal neurons is altered following induction of LTP in sensorimotor cortex of the freely moving rat
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The organization of specific cortical connections can be altered by sensory and motor experience. These changes are believed to result from activity-dependent changes in synaptic connectivity, similar to those induced in the hippocampus by high-frequency stimulation in long-term potentiation (LTP) experiments. If similar mechanisms are involved, then neocortical LTP induction may induce some of the same morphological changes that are seen following learning. We induced LTP in the contralateral sensorimotor cortex by repeated, daily tetanization of the corpus callosum in chronically implanted, freely moving rats. Anatomical results showed that the LTP induction was associated with alterations in dendrite morphology and increased spine density. These changes are qualitatively and quantitatively similar to those commonly observed in studies in which rats are housed in complex environments. The similarity of results following exposure to complex environments and after LTP induction in the neocortex may indicate a reliance on the same cellular mechanisms in both situations.
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