Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 455–466 | Cite as

How complete is physiological compensation in extrastriate cortex after visual cortex damage in kittens?

  • William Guido
  • Peter D. Spear
  • Lillian Tong


Previous studies indicate that neurons in the cat's posteromedial lateral suprasylvian (PMLS) visual area of cortex show physiological compensation after neonatal but not adult damage to areas 17, 18, and 19 of the visual cortex (collectively, VC). Thus, VC damage in adults produces a loss of direction selectivity and a decrease in response to the ipsilateral eye among PMLS cells, but these changes are not seen in adult cats that received VC damage as kittens. This represents compensation for early VC damage in the sense that PMLS neurons develop properties they would have had if there had been no brain damage. However, this is only a partial compensation for the effects of VC damage. A full compensation would involve development of properties of the VC cells that were removed in the damage. The present study investigated whether this type of compensation occurs for detailed spatial- and temporal-frequency processing. Single-cell recordings were made in PMLS cortex of adult cats that had received a VC lesion on the day of birth or at 8 weeks of age. Responses to sine-wave gratings that varied in spatial frequency, contrast, and temporal frequency were assessed quantitatively. We found that the spatial- and temporal-frequency processing of PMLS cells in adult cats that had neonatal VC damage were not significantly different from PMLS cells in normal cats. Therefore, there was no evidence that PMLS cells can compensate for VC damage by developing properties that are better than normal and like those of the striate cortex cells that were damaged.

We also assessed the effects of long-term VC damage in adult cats to determine whether the normal properties seen in cats with neonatal VC damage represent a compensation for abnormalities in PMLS cortex present after adult damage. In a previous study, we found that acute VC damage in adult cats has small but reliable effects on maximal response amplitude, maximal contrast sensitivity, and spatial resolution (Guido et al. 1990b). In the present study, we found that long-term VC damage in adult cats does not increase these abnormalities as a result of secondary degenerative changes. In fact, the minor abnormalities that were present after an acute VC lesion were virtually absent following a long-term adult lesion, perhaps because they were due to transient traumatic effects. Therefore, there was little evidence for abnormalities in spatial- or temporal-frequency processing following long-term adult VC damage for which PMLS cells might show compensation following long-term neonatal damage.

Our results thus indicate that there is little or no difference in the spatial- or temporal-frequency processing of PMLS cells in normal cats and cats with long-term VC damage received early in life or as adults. These findings are discussed in relation to the inputs to PMLS cortex and to the behavioral abilities of cats with VC damage at different ages. The implications for under-standing the role of lateral suprasylvian visual cortex in behavioral recovery from VC damage is considered.

Key words

Brain damage Neural plasticity Striate cortex Extrastriate cortex Recovery of function Cat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Guido
    • 1
  • Peter D. Spear
    • 1
  • Lillian Tong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Center for NeuroscienceUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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