Title

Immunofluroescent Profiling of Synaptic Density Changes in the Visual Cortex of Rats During Development and Eye Opening

Presenter

Ravneet Waraich

Abstract

A dominant hypothesis in neuroscience is that the developing brain produces an excess of neural connections, called synapses, from which a subset are selected by processes like learning, while under-used synapses are pruned away. There is evidence for this mechanism in primates, but surprisingly, there is no experimental evidence from the cortex of rodents. Here, we used fluorescent markers of synapses to estimate relative synapse density across postnatal (P) development in the visual cortex of rats, including analysis of the days immediately preceding and following eye opening. We found a progressive increase in the number of synapses during the first three weeks, from P12-21, but no pruning after P21. We also did not detect significant changes in synapse density associated specifically with eye opening. Based on these data, we propose that synapse formation during development is progressive and pre-programmed, and that synapse formation associated with learning is a distinct process.

Faculty Sponsor

Ginger Withers

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Poster Session

Location

Cordiner Hall

Presentation Type

Poster

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

Perry Summer Research Award

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Apr 19th, 1:00 PM Apr 19th, 2:00 PM

Immunofluroescent Profiling of Synaptic Density Changes in the Visual Cortex of Rats During Development and Eye Opening

Cordiner Hall

A dominant hypothesis in neuroscience is that the developing brain produces an excess of neural connections, called synapses, from which a subset are selected by processes like learning, while under-used synapses are pruned away. There is evidence for this mechanism in primates, but surprisingly, there is no experimental evidence from the cortex of rodents. Here, we used fluorescent markers of synapses to estimate relative synapse density across postnatal (P) development in the visual cortex of rats, including analysis of the days immediately preceding and following eye opening. We found a progressive increase in the number of synapses during the first three weeks, from P12-21, but no pruning after P21. We also did not detect significant changes in synapse density associated specifically with eye opening. Based on these data, we propose that synapse formation during development is progressive and pre-programmed, and that synapse formation associated with learning is a distinct process.