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Visual experience alters the molecular profile of NMDA-receptor-mediated sensory transmission


Dr K. E. Binns, as above. E-mail:


N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDArs) may facilitate experience-dependent changes in the visual system. Early sensory experience has an influence over the production of the molecular components from which NMDArs are assembled, and thereby alters the properties of functional receptors. Using the antagonists d-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (AP5) and 3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonate (CPP), which have some selectivity for different variants of the NMDAr, we demonstrate that visual deprivation (by dark rearing) has functional consequences for NMDArs in the superior colliculus. An increase in the sensitivity of visual responses to AP5 in dark-reared rats indicated that NMDArs were more important for visual transmission in these individuals. We also observed a relative change in the efficacy of the antagonists against the visual responses of normal versus dark-reared rats. AP5 reduced the visual responses of both groups, but CPP was ineffective against visual responses after dark rearing. In the same neurons, CPP blocked NMDA induced activity indicating that molecular adaptations of NMDArs are specific to those synapses mediating visual activity.