Rhythm Generation in Embryonic Chick Spinal Cord
Early in development, vertebrate neural networks become spontaneously active in the absence of sensory inputs. Their activity is episodic and differs from the activity that will take place in the fully mature, functional network. In the isolated chick spinal cord preparation, episodic activity starts at embryonic day (E) 4 and lasts about 10 days. At E4, it is characterized by one short bout of synchronous activity along the ventral spinal cord occurring every 2 min. By E10, episodes can last over a minute and are comprised of several cycles of activity. Many different developing networks also produce episodic activity; this activity plays an important role in the maturity of the synaptic networks in which it is expressed (Blankenship and Feller 2010; O’Donovan 1999).
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