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Neural basis of perceptual learning : structural plasticity and noradrenergic control

Abstract : The field of neuroscience has experienced explosive growth over the past decade toward understanding the neural correlates of perception. More specifically, the adult brain responds to environmental experience by significant functional and structural modifications, called "neural plasticity" which underlies learning. A main issue in neuroscience is to understand the cellular basis of perceptive plasticity and subsequent behavioral adaptations. Contrary to previously held beliefs about its static nature, the adult brain is in fact capable of generating new neurons that can integrate into its complex circuitry. The birth of new neurons constitutively occurs in two specific regions of the adult mammalian brain (OB and hippocampal dentate gyrus). Adult neurogenesis is a sophisticated biological process whose function has remained a mystery to neuroscience researchers but a role in learning and memory has been proposed. Previous work in our group have shown that perceptive olfactory learning depends on adult neurogenesis. In addition, neuromodulatory systems, including noradrenergic and cholinergic systems massively innervate the olfactory bulb and more specifically the inhibitory interneurons targeted by adult neurogenesis and are long-known for their role in learning and memory. One objective of the present work was to determine the spatial and temporal pattern of the innervation by noradrenergic and cholinergic inputs of developing adult-born neurons and to investigate its modulation by learning. For that purpose, we used behavioral and neuro-anatomical approaches. Another objective was to assess the functional role of centrifugal contacts using an optogenetic approach. Results indicate that the noradrenergic innervation is selectively increased on adult born neurons following perceptual olfactory learning, a phenomenon that was not observed for cholinergic innervation, pointing the noradrenergic system as a key mechanisms involved in perceptual learning. Interestingly, noradrenergic contacts on neurons born during ontogenesis were not affected by learning, suggesting a very specific part played by adult-born neuron in learning associated plasticity. In the same brains, we have analyzed the structural plasticity induced by learning in adult-born and pre-existing neurons. The major finding is that mirroring the increased number of noradrenergic contacts, learning induced an increase in dendritic spines on adult-born, but not on pre-existing neurons
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  • HAL Id : tel-01422076, version 1

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Xuming Yin. Neural basis of perceptual learning : structural plasticity and noradrenergic control. Neurons and Cognition [q-bio.NC]. Université de Lyon, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016LYSE1182⟩. ⟨tel-01422076⟩

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