Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, LONDON, WC1N 3AR, UK, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 1176, Fax +44 (0) 20 7679 1173,



B10 Seminar Room, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square
London, WC1N 3AR

Supported by The Gatsby Foundation

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Nicotinic Regulation of Synaptic and Sensory Function in Sensory Cortex

Raju Metherate
Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour, University of California, Irvine, USA

Acetylcholine release in sensory cortex contributes to higher-order sensory function, in part by activating nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). We study nAChRs in rodent auditory cortex, and have found distinct functions in the developing and adult cortex.  Transient expression of nAChRs in primary sensory cortex during development - just as sensory function begins - may define a 'critical period,' and chronic exposure to nicotine during this period appears to permanently disrupt cholinergic function in the cortex.  Such results may underlie sensory-cognitive deficits in humans produced subsequent to prenatal nicotine exposure, and also provide insight into the normal contribution of nAChRs to sensory-cognitive function.