Kinetics of the Development of Orientation Selectivity in the Primary Visual Cortex of Normally and Dark-reared Kittens

  • Yves Fregnac
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 27)


A kinetic model of orientation tuning is inferred from quantitative analysis of extracellular recordings in the primary visual cortex of normally and dark-reared kittens.

Seven hundred twelve visual cells were classified into three functional groups: (a) nonspecific cells; (b) immature cells which are not as orientation-selective as (c) specific cells. Power regression and covariance analysis show that the critical period begins before 19 days and that the kinetics of the immature pool are the same in both rearing conditions.

A catenary process of development of orientation selectivity is proposed, the immature compartment being a transit pool between nonspecific and specific cells. Two sequential stages occur: (a) the realisation of an intrinsic program of maturation by which cortical specificity appears at eye opening and increases independently of visual experience; (b) a phase of “epigenesis,” beginning at 19 days during which functional modification depends on visuomotor experience in a nonlinear way.

In order to predict the effects of dark-rearing, normal rearing, and restricted visual experience, two assumptions are made: (a) the kinetics are first-order, time-dependent; (b) during delayed visuomotor experience the exchange coefficients take the value they would have had at this age, if the animal had been reared normally since birth.

This model suggests that visuomotor experience during the critical period allows the expression of a maturation process which may have been masked up to this point by the absence of vision or eye movements.


Visual Experience Primary Visual Cortex Exchange Coefficient Orientation Selectivity Visual Cell 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Fregnac
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de NeurophysiologieCollège de FranceParisFrance

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