A specialized NMDA receptor function in layer 5 recurrent microcircuitry of the adult rat prefrontal cortex

Huaixing Wang, George G. Stradtman, Xiao Jing Wang, Wen Jun Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the prefrontal cortex, NMDA receptors are important for normal prefrontal functions such as working memory, and their dysfunction plays a key role in the pathological processes of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Little is known, however, about the synaptic properties of NMDA receptors in the local circuits of recurrent excitation, a leading candidate mechanism underlying working memory. We investigated the NMDA receptor-mediated currents at monosynaptic connections between pairs of layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We found that NMDA receptor-mediated currents at prefrontal synapses in the adult, but not young, rats exhibit a twofold longer decay time-constant and temporally summate a train of stimuli more effectively, compared to those in the primary visual cortex. Experiments with pharmacological, immunocytochemical, and biochemical approaches further suggest that, in the adult animals, neurons express significantly more NR2B subunits in the prefrontal cortex than the visual cortex. The NR2B-rich synapses in the prefrontal circuitry may be critically implicated in online cognitive computations and plasticity in learning, as well as psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16791-16796
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 28 2008



  • Cortical development
  • Persistent activity
  • Recurrent excitation
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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