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, 524 (13), 2643-53

Susceptibility to Monocular Deprivation Following Immersion in Darkness Either Late Into or Beyond the Critical Period

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Susceptibility to Monocular Deprivation Following Immersion in Darkness Either Late Into or Beyond the Critical Period

Kevin R Duffy et al. J Comp Neurol.

Abstract

An extended duration of darkness starting near the time of birth preserves immature neuronal characteristics and prolongs the accentuated plasticity observed in young animals. Brief periods of complete darkness have emerged as an effective means of restoring a high capacity for neural plasticity and of promoting recovery from the effects of monocular deprivation (MD). We examined whether 10 days of darkness imposed in adulthood or beyond the peak of the critical period could rejuvenate the ability of MD to reduce the size of neuron somata within deprived layers of the cat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN). For adult cats subjected to 10 days of darkness before 7 days of MD, we observed no alteration in neuron size or neurofilament labeling within the dLGN. At 12 weeks of age, MD that followed immediately after 10 days of darkness produced an enhanced reduction of neuron soma size within deprived dLGN layers. For this age we observed that 10 days of darkness also enhanced the loss of neurofilament protein within deprived dLGN layers. These results indicate that, although 10 days of darkness in adulthood does not enhance the susceptibility to 7 days of MD, darkness imposed near the trailing edge of the critical period can restore a heightened susceptibility to MD more typical of an earlier developmental stage. The loss of neurofilament in juveniles exposed to darkness prior to MD suggests that the enhanced capacity for structural plasticity is partially rooted in the ability of darkness to modulate molecules that inhibit plasticity. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:2643-2653, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: RRID:AB_509998; critical period neurofilament; dark rearing; lateral geniculate nucleus; molecular brake; monocular deprivation; plasticity; soma size; thalamus.

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