Reduction in spontaneous firing of mouse excitatory layer 4 cortical neurons following visual classical conditioning

The process of learning induces plastic changes in neuronal network of the brain. Our earlier studies on mice showed that classical conditioning in which monocular visual stimulation was paired with an electric shock to the tail enhanced GABA immunoreactivity within layer 4 of the monocular part of the primary visual cortex (V1), contralaterally to the stimulated eye. In the present experiment we investigated whether the same classical conditioning paradigm induces changes of neuronal excitability in this cortical area. Two experimental groups were used: mice that underwent 7-day visual classical conditioning and controls. Patch-clamp whole-cell recordings were performed from ex vivo slices of mouse V1. The slices were perfused with the modified artificial cerebrospinal fluid, the composition of which better mimics the brain interstitial fluid in situ and induces spontaneous activity. The neuronal excitability was characterized by measuring the frequency of spontaneous action potentials. We found that layer 4 star pyramidal cells located in the monocular representation of the “trained” eye in V1 had lower frequency of spontaneous activity in comparison with neurons from the same cortical region of control animals. Weaker spontaneous firing indicates decreased general excitability of star pyramidal neurons within layer 4 of the monocular representation of the "trained" eye in V1. Such effect could result from enhanced inhibitory processes accompanying learning in this cortical area.

Supported by the Polish National Science Center grant Symfonia 1 (2013/08/W/NZ4/00691) and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no 665735 (Bio4Med) and by the funding from Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education within 2016-2020 funds for the implementation of international projects (agreement no 3548/H2020/COFUND/2016/2).

Author: Marek Bekisz
Conference: Title