Two-dimensional analysis of the spacing of ocular dominance columns in normally raised and strabismic kittens
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In the primary visual cortex of cats, ferrets and macaque monkeys, the thalamocortical afferents conveying signals from the two eyes terminate in alternating regions of layer IV known as ocular dominance columns. Previous experiments have indicated that the periodicity of these columns can be influenced by visual experience: compared to normally raised animals both strabismic cats and cats raised with alternating monocular exposure displayed an increased spacing of adjacent ocular dominance columns in the primary visual cortex (area 17). However, recently it was shown that the formation of ocular dominance columns begins much earlier than previously supposed, indicating that early visual experience might only have a limited influence on the development of the spatial pattern of ocular dominance columns. We therefore visualized the complete pattern of ocular dominance columns in area 17 of normally raised and strabismic kittens during early postnatal development (age 3–6 weeks), particularly focussing on littermates. In addition, we used a previously developed spatial analysis (period statistics) to quantify columnar spacing two-dimensionally. We observed a pronounced interindividual variability in both normally raised and strabismic animals, with column spacings ranging from 783 to 1362 μm. In contrast to previous reports, there were no significant differences in columnar periodicity between normally raised and strabismic cats. These data indicate that rearing has less influence on column spacing while the interindividual variability is much greater than previously supposed, suggesting that genetic differences have an influence on column spacing.
KeywordsArea 17 Columnar spacing 2-Deoxyglucose Ocular dominance columns Strabismus
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