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Author Notes:

Email Address: Robert Liu :robert.liu@emory.edu

K.N.S., D.W., and R.C.L. designed research.

K.N.S. and L.C.L. performed research.

K.N.S. analyzed data.

K.N.S., D.W., and R.C.L. wrote the paper.

We also thank Sarah Pallas for her feedback on the manuscript, and Laura Mariani for technical assistance.

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants F31 DC011987 (K.N.S.), R01 DC008343 (R.C.L.), and R01 DA027535 (D.W.), and Emory University's PRISM (Problems and Research to Integrate Science & Mathematics) Fellowship DGE0536941, a GK-12 program of the National Science Foundation (K.N.S.).


  • auditory cortex
  • critical period
  • norepinephrine
  • sound exposure
  • tonotopy

Norepinephrine Is Necessary for Experience-Dependent Plasticity in the Developing Mouse Auditory Cortex


Journal Title:

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing


Volume 35, Number 6


, Pages 2432-2437

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Critical periods are developmental windows during which the stimuli an animal encounters can reshape response properties in the affected system to a profound degree. Despite this window's importance, the neural mechanisms that regulate it are not completely understood. Pioneering studies in visual cortex initially indicated that norepinephrine (NE) permits ocular dominance column plasticity during the critical period, but later research has suggested otherwise. More recent work implicating NE in experience-dependent plasticity in the adult auditory cortex led us to re-examine the role of NE in critical period plasticity. Here, we exposed dopamine β-hydroxylase knock-out (Dbh−/−) mice, which lack NE completely from birth, to a biased acoustic environment during the auditory cortical critical period. This manipulation led to a redistribution of best frequencies (BFs) across auditory cortex in our control mice, consistent with prior work. By contrast, Dbh−/− mice failed to exhibit the expected redistribution of BFs, even though NE-deficient and NE-competent mice showed comparable auditory cortical organization when reared in a quiet colony environment. These data suggest that while intrinsic tonotopic patterning of auditory cortical circuitry occurs independently from NE, NE is required for critical period plasticity in auditory cortex.

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© 2015 the authors

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