Social hierarchy regulates ocular dominance plasticity in adult male mice

  • Jenny Balog
  • Franziska Hintz
  • Marcel Isstas
  • Manuel Teichert
  • Christine Winter
  • Konrad LehmannEmail author
Original Article


We here show that social rank, as assessed by competition for a running wheel, influences ocular dominance plasticity in adult male mice. Dominant animals showed a clear ocular dominance shift after 4 days of MD, whereas their submissive cagemates did not. NMDA receptor activation, reduced GABA inhibition, and serotonin transmission were necessary for this plasticity, but not sufficient to explain the difference between dominant and submissive animals. In contrast, prefrontal dopamine concentration was higher in dominant than submissive mice, and systemic manipulation of dopamine transmission bidirectionally changed ocular dominance plasticity. Thus, we could show that a social hierarchical relationship influences ocular dominance plasticity in the visual cortex via higher-order cortices, most likely the medial prefrontal cortex. Further studies will be needed to elucidate the precise mechanisms by which this regulation takes place.


Social dominance status Ocular dominance plasticity Primary visual cortex Medial prefrontal cortex Optical imaging Serotonin GABA NMDAR Dopamine 



We are obliged to Prof. Jürgen Bolz for constant support and helpful discussion. Thanks are further due to Elisabeth Meier for excellent technical assistance and Sandra Eisenberg for animal care. Finally, we wish to thank Dr. John O’Ball for proof-reading the manuscript. Jenny Balog was supported by a Landesgraduiertenstipendium during the preparation of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors are not aware of any competing interests that could compromise their research or its presentation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Allgemeine Zoologie and TierphysiologieFriedrich Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyCharité University Medicine BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH, Abteilung BiophysikDarmstadtGermany

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