Evidence for a Central Control of Developmental Plasticity in the Striate Cortex of Kittens
It is well established that the functional organization of the mammalian visual cortex can be influenced by manipulating early visual experience. In the striate cortex of visually inexperienced cats and of cats raised with undisturbed binocular vision, the large majority of neurons are binocular and can be driven equally well from either eye (Hubel and Wiesel, 1962). When, however, vision is restricted to one eye during a critical period of early development, the afferents from the deprived eye lose the ability to excite cortical cells; most neurons become monocular and excitable only from the experienced eye (Wiesel and Hubel, 1963). Disruption of binocularity occurs also when binocular fusion is prevented, as it occurs, e.g., after surgically induced strabismus. Again, most neurons become monocular, but they remain excitable either from the right or the left eye (Hubel and Wiesel, 1965). These changes in neuronal circuitry are commonly attributed to competitive interactions between the afferents from the two eyes at their common cortical target cells (Wiesel and Hubel, 1965; Guillery, 1972; Cynader et al., 1977). Asymmetries in the activity of converging pathways are thought to lead to competitive suppression of the less efficient connections.
KeywordsShrinkage Retina Immobilization Strabismus Astigmatism
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