Experience-dependent plasticity of visual acuity in rats

Eur J Neurosci. 2000 Oct;12(10):3781-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2000.00236.x.


Rats have become a popular model for investigating the mechanisms underlying ocular dominance plasticity; however, no quantitative assessment of the effects of visual deprivation on behavioural acuity has been reported in this species. We measured the spatial acuity of monocularly and binocularly deprived rats with a visual discrimination task. The average spatial acuity of normal rats and rats deprived of vision after postnatal day 40 was approximately 1 cycle/degree. Monocular deprivation up to postnatal day 40 resulted in a 30% decrease in acuity and there was no recovery after 8 months. Identical binocular deprivation produced a comparable but significantly smaller reduction in acuity. The deleterious effects of monocular and binocular deprivation on visual acuity indicate that the development of cortical receptive field properties related to spatial tuning are affected by both monocular and binocular deprivation. The similarities in the effects of visual deprivation on visual acuity between rats and other mammals confirm that rats are a good model system for studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying experience-dependent visual plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Blindness / pathology
  • Blindness / physiopathology*
  • Blindness / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology*
  • Vision, Low / pathology
  • Vision, Low / physiopathology*
  • Vision, Low / psychology
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*