Modeling the role of gap junctions between excitatory neurons in the developing visual cortex

Jennifer Crodelle, David W. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent experiments in the developing mammalian visual cortex have revealed that gap junctions couple excitatory cells and potentially influence the formation of chemical synapses. In particular, cells that were coupled by a gap junction during development tend to share an orientation preference and are preferentially coupled by a chemical synapse in the adult cortex, a property that is diminished when gap junctions are blocked. In this work, we construct a simplified model of the developing mouse visual cortex including spike-timingdependent plasticity of both the feedforward synaptic inputs and recurrent cortical synapses. We use this model to show that synchrony among gap-junction-coupled cells underlies their preference to form strong recurrent synapses and develop similar orientation preference; this effect decreases with an increase in coupling density. Additionally, we demonstrate that gap-junction coupling works, together with the relative timing of synaptic development of the feedforward and recurrent synapses, to determine the resulting cortical map of orientation preference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1007915
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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