New research from the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience demonstrates that inhibitory and excitatory neuronal circuits of the visual system develop through different processes, even if the organization of the mature circuit is similar. These findings, published in Nature Communications highlight the importance of the continued study of the development of these two systems, the understanding of which is fundamental to comprehending neurodevelopmental disorders.
Scientists Jeremy Chang and David Fitzpatrick have now characterized the development of these functional maps for inhibitory neurons in primary visual cortex. Although excitatory and inhibitory functional maps are matched at maturity, their development occurs through different parallel processes.
Excitatory neurons show modular organization early on, before the eyes open and visual input is received. Neighboring neurons respond to visual images in a correlated fashion and show similar preferences for stimuli presented in specific orientations. While visual experience refines particular properties of these maps, such as the alignment of visual information from each eye, the basic features of the modular organization are present before visual experience.
Dr. Chang found that inhibitory neurons, on the other hand, lack much of this modular activity before visual experience.