Transient spine expansion and learning-induced plasticity in layer 1 primary motor cortex

Kimberly J. Harms, Mengia S. Rioult-Pedotti, D. Rosy Carter, Anna Dunaevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Experience-dependent regulation of synaptic strength in the horizontal connections in layer 1 of the primary motor cortex is likely to play an important role in motor learning. Dendritic spines, the primary sites of excitatory synapses in the brain, are known to change shape in response to various experimental stimuli. We used a rat motor learning model to examine connection strength via field recordings in slices and confocal imaging of labeled spines to explore changes induced solely by learning a simple motor task. We report that motor learning increases response size, while transiently occluding long-term potentiation (LTP) and increasing spine width in layer 1. This demonstrates learning-induced changes in behavior, synaptic responses, and structure in the same animal, suggesting that an LTP-like process in the motor cortex mediates the initial learning of a skilled task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5686-5690
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 28 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendritic spines
  • Field potentials
  • LTP
  • Layer 1
  • Learning
  • Motor cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Transient spine expansion and learning-induced plasticity in layer 1 primary motor cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this