Popescu, M. V., Ebner, F. F.
The normal development of sensory perception in mammals depends on appropriate sensory experience between birth and maturity. Numerous reports have shown that trimming some or all of the large mystacial vibrissa (whiskers) on one side of the face after birth has a detrimental effect on the maturation of cortical function. The objective of the present study was to understand the differences that occur after unilateral whisker trimming compared with those that occur after bilateral deprivation. Physiological deficits produced by bilateral trimming (BD) of all whiskers for 2 mo after birth were compared with the deficits produced by unilateral trimming (UD) for the same period of time using extracellular recording under urethan anesthesia from single cells in rat barrel cortex. Fast spiking (FSUs) and regular spiking (RSUs) units were separated and their properties compared in four subregions identified by histological reconstructions of the electrode penetrations, namely: layer IV barrel and septum, and layers II/III above a barrel and above a septum. UD upregulated responses in layer IV septa and in layers II/III above septa and perturbed the timing of responses to whisker stimuli. After BD, nearly all responses were decreased, and poststimulus latencies were increased. Circuit changes are proposed as an argument for how inputs arising from the spared whiskers project to the undeprived cortex and, via commissural fibers, could upregulate septal responses after UD. Following BD, more global neural deficits create a signature difference in the outcome of UD and BD in rat barrel cortex.