Developmental loss of synchronous spontaneous activity in the mouse retina is independent of visual experience

J Neurosci. 2003 Apr 1;23(7):2851-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.23-07-02851.2003.


In the immature retina, correlated spontaneous activity in the form of propagating waves is thought to be necessary for the refinement of connections between the retina and its targets. The continued presence of this activity in the mature retina would interfere with the transmission of information about the visual scene. The mechanisms responsible for the disappearance of retinal waves are not well understood, but one hypothesis is that visual experience is important. To test this hypothesis, we monitored the developmental changes in spontaneous retinal activity of both normal mice and mice reared in the dark. Using multi-electrode array recordings, we found that retinal waves in normally reared mice are present at postnatal day (P) 9 and begin to break down shortly after eye opening, around P15. By P21, waves have disappeared, and synchronous firing is comparable with that observed in the adult (6 weeks). In mice raised in the dark, we found a similar time course for the disappearance of waves. However, at P15, dark-reared retinas occasionally showed abnormally long periods of relative inactivity, not seen in controls. Apart from this quiescence, we found no striking differences between the patterns of spontaneous retinal activity from normal and dark-reared mice. We therefore suggest that visual experience is not required for the loss of synchronous spontaneous activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Culture Techniques
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Periodicity
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular*