A Critical Period for Enhanced Synaptic Plasticity in Newly Generated Neurons of the Adult Brain

Shaoyu Ge, Chih hao Yang, Kuei sen Hsu, Guo li Ming, Hongjun Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

756 Citations (Scopus)


Active adult neurogenesis occurs in discrete brain regions of all mammals and is widely regarded as a neuronal replacement mechanism. Whether adult-born neurons make unique contributions to brain functions is largely unknown. Here we systematically characterized synaptic plasticity of retrovirally labeled adult-born dentate granule cells at different stages during their neuronal maturation. We identified a critical period between 1 and 1.5 months of the cell age when adult-born neurons exhibit enhanced long-term potentiation with increased potentiation amplitude and decreased induction threshold. Furthermore, such enhanced plasticity in adult-born neurons depends on developmentally regulated synaptic expression of NR2B-containing NMDA receptors. Our study demonstrates that adult-born neurons exhibit the same classic critical period plasticity as neurons in the developing nervous system. The transient nature of such enhanced plasticity may provide a fundamental mechanism allowing adult-born neurons within the critical period to serve as major mediators of experience-induced plasticity while maintaining stability of the mature circuitry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-566
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2007
Externally publishedYes



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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