Behavioral neuroscience

An abrupt developmental shift in callosal modulation of sleep-related spindle bursts coincides with the emergence of excitatory-inhibitory balance and a reduction of somatosensory cortical plasticity.

PMID 20939660


Transecting the corpus callosum of postnatal day (P)1-6 rats disinhibits the production of spindle bursts (SBs) within primary somatosensory cortex (S1), most notably during periods of sleep-related myoclonic twitching. Here we investigated developmental changes in this callosally mediated disinhibition and its association with cortical plasticity. Recordings in P2-15 subjects revealed that callosotomy-induced disinhibition is a transient feature of early development that disappears abruptly after P6. This abrupt switch was accompanied by sharp decreases in myoclonic twitching and equally sharp increases in spontaneous SBs and in the number of GABAergic and glutamatergic presynaptic terminals in S1. Expression of the K+Cl- cotransporter 2 (KCC2) also increased across these ages. To determine whether these developmental changes are associated with alterations in cortical plasticity, pups were callosotomized at P1, P6, or P8, and tested over the subsequent week. Regardless of age, callosotomy immediately disrupted SBs evoked by forepaw stimulation. Over the next week, the P1 and P6 callosotomy groups exhibited full recovery of function; in contrast, the P8 group did not exhibit recovery of function, thus indicating an abrupt decrease in cortical plasticity between P6 and P8. Together, our data demonstrate that callosotomy-induced disinhibition is a transient phenomenon whose disappearance coincides with the onset of increased intrinsic connectivity, establishment of excitatory-inhibitory balance, and diminished plasticity in S1. Accordingly, our findings indicate that callosotomy-induced disinhibition of twitch-related SBs is a bioassay of somatosensory cortical plasticity and, in addition, support the hypothesis that myoclonic twitches, like retinal waves, actively contribute to cortical development and plasticity.

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1(S),9(R)-(−)-Bicuculline methiodide, ≥95.0% (HPCE)