Visual acuity development and plasticity in the absence of sensory experience

J Neurosci. 2013 Nov 6;33(45):17789-96. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1500-13.2013.


Visual circuits mature and are refined by sensory experience. However, significant gaps remain in our understanding how deprivation influences the development of visual acuity in mice. Here, we perform a longitudinal study assessing the effects of chronic deprivation on the development of the mouse subcortical and cortical visual circuits using a combination of behavioral optomotor testing, in vivo visual evoked responses (VEP) and single-unit cortical recordings. As previously reported, orientation tuning was degraded and onset of ocular dominance plasticity was delayed and remained open in chronically deprived mice. Surprisingly, we found that the development of optomotor threshold and VEP acuity can occur in an experience-independent manner, although at a significantly slower rate. Moreover, monocular deprivation elicited amblyopia only during a discrete period of development in the dark. The rate of recovery of optomotor threshold upon exposure of deprived mice to light confirmed a maturational transition regardless of visual input. Together our results revealed a dissociable developmental trajectory for visual receptive-field properties in dark-reared mice suggesting a differential role for spontaneous activity within thalamocortical and intracortical circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*