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Effects of visual deprivation on the development of the monkey's lateral geniculate nucleus.

By C Blakemore and F Vital-Durand


We have studied the physiological properties of cells in the deprived layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (l.g.n.) in monkeys monocularly deprived from birth for up to 27 weeks, and compared them with results from the non-deprived layers in the same animals and in a series of normal animals. Despite the relative shrinkage of cell bodies in the deprived layers, units were easily isolated, were visually responsive and could readily be classified as linear (X) or non-linear (Y) by means of tests of spatial summation. The laminar distribution of cell types and the proportion of Y cells did not seem to be affected by deprivation. The patterns and latencies of discharge produced by contrast-reversing gratings did not differ grossly between deprived and non-deprived cells. The peak firing frequencies for drifting gratings were also similar. The degree of surround antagonism (though very variable from cell to cell) seemed unaffected by deprivation. Most surprising of all, there was little or no deficit in the spatial resolution of the receptive fields of deprived cells. Recordings were always taken ipsilateral to the deprived eye, and neural 'acuity' tended to be sligtly lower in the deprived laminae than the non-deprived. However, this nasal/temporal asymmetry in spatial resolution was not obviously more pronounced than in normal animals. Neural 'acuity' was not abnormally low in either contralateral or ipsilateral layers in the l.g.n. of an animal binocularly deprived from birth until a year of age. We have not examined chromatic properties or temporal characteristics adequately to say whether they are affected by deprivation. Paradoxically, although the post-natal maturation of visual acuity in normal monkeys seems to be mainly limited by peripheral factors, deprivation (which causes a profound defect of behavioural acuity) does not seem to interfere substantially with physiological development of the retina or the geniculate nucleus

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1986
DOI identifier: 10.1113/jphysiol.1986.sp016298
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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