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Lynx1, a cholinergic brake, limits plasticity in adult visual cortex.
Science.Nov 26, 2010;330(6008):1238-40.
Morishita H, Miwa JM, Heintz N, Hensch TK.
FM Kirby Neurobiology Center, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Experience-dependent brain plasticity typically declines after an early critical period during which circuits are established. Loss of plasticity with closure of the critical period limits improvement of function in adulthood, but the mechanisms that change the brain's plasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we identified an increase in expression of Lynx1 protein in mice that prevented plasticity in the primary visual cortex late in life. Removal of this molecular brake enhanced nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling. Lynx1 expression thus maintains stability of mature cortical networks in the presence of cholinergic innervation. The results suggest that modulating the balance between excitatory and inhibitory circuits reactivates visual plasticity and may present a therapeutic target.