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George E. Carvell, PhD, PT   University of Pittsburgh
Fig. 1 IN: D.J. Simons and P.W. Land, Early Experience of Tactile Stimulation Influences Organization of Somatic Sensory Cortex. Nature 326: 694-697, 1987.
Simple trimming of whiskers early in life produces changes in response properties of barrel neurons recorded in these animals as adults with regrown vibrissae. Deprived barrel neurons have an increased spontaneous activity, increased responses to whisker deflections, and an expansion of receptive fields (more whiskers excite the neuron).The same trimming in adults has no such effect. This appears to be a cortical phenomenon since response properties of thalamic neurons is unaffected by whisker trimming. These effects appear to be permanent.
Deprived C row
Deprived Barrel Neuron Responses
Normal Barrel Neuron Responses
Only C row
whiskers were trimmed in this animal
Early Experience is Critical for Normal Development of Rat Somatosensory Cortex
The cortical barrel is a network of neurons that requires fine tuning of its inputs to work properly. Sensory Experience early in life is critical for normal function.