Abstract and Keywords
The brain has a tremendous ability to change as a result of experience. While the brain is plastic throughout life, during early development, the nervous system seems much more sensitive to changes in neural activity or experience. During postnatal critical or sensitive periods, sensory experience can significantly restructure cortical networks, leading to long-term changes in central representations that can affect perception and behavior. This chapter reviews how the parameters of the acoustic environment and inhibitory circuitry can regulate cortical plasticity during early life experience. It highlights newly identified cortical circuit elements that are specifically recruited to engage critical-period plasticity mechanisms.
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