Food restriction enhances visual cortex plasticity in adulthood

Nat Commun. 2011;2:320. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1323.


Neural circuits display a heightened sensitivity to external stimuli during well-established windows in early postnatal life. After the end of these critical periods, brain plasticity dramatically wanes. The visual system is one of the paradigmatic models for studying experience-dependent plasticity. Here we show that food restriction can be used as a strategy to restore plasticity in the adult visual cortex of rats. A short period of food restriction in adulthood is able both to reinstate ocular dominance plasticity and promote recovery from amblyopia. These effects are accompanied by a reduction of intracortical inhibition without modulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression or extracellular matrix structure. Our results suggest that food restriction could be investigated as a potential way of modulating plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amblyopia / diet therapy*
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dominance, Ocular*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Vision, Monocular
  • Visual Cortex / physiopathology*