Molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity in visual cortex
A remarkable amount of our current knowledge of mechanisms underlying experience-dependent plasticity during cortical development comes from study of the mammalian visual cortex. Recent advances in high-resolution cellular imaging, combined with genetic manipulations in mice, novel fluorescent recombinant probes, and large-scale screens of gene expression, have revealed multiple molecular mechanisms that underlie structural and functional plasticity in visual cortex. We situate these mechanisms in the context of a new conceptual framework of feed-forward and feedback regulation for understanding how neurons of the visual cortex reorganize their connections in response to changes in sensory inputs. Such conceptual advances have important implications for understanding not only normal development but also pathological conditions that afflict the central nervous system.