Proper development, maturation, and functionality of cortical networks are heavily dependent on refinements of cortical responses by sensory experience, in mammals and other organisms. Degradation of experience-dependent cortical refinements particularly during early postnatal days has profound effects on responses of cortical circuits. Consequently, it is vital to understand the underpinnings of experience dependent refinement of cortical circuits to address how neuronal responses: 1) develop normally, 2) adapt to the continuous changes amidst ever-changing sensory environment, and 3) are altered due to an insult or onset of neurological disorders.

Experience dependent refinements have largely been studied by mechanisms that have focused on synaptic properties (LTP, LTD, homeostatic scaling). However, the contributions of intrinsic plasticity mechanisms in activity dependent refinement of cortical circuits remain unclear. The primary focus of this research is to determine the cellular/molecular mechanisms of intrinsic plasticity in cortical neurons and determine what role this plasticity plays in activity dependent refinement of neocortical circuits. Specifically, this work addresses how long-term potentiation of intrinsic excitability (LTP-IE) plays a role in development, modification, and activity-dependent refinement of cortical circuits using an array of electrophysiological, molecular, and histological techniques in the rodent visual system.
Long Term Potentiation of Intrinsic Excitability (LTP-IE)