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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 15, 1992; 89(12): 5437–5441.
PMCID: PMC49307

Brief visual experience induces immediate early gene expression in the cat visual cortex.

Abstract

Brief visual experience causes rapid physiological changes in the visual cortex during early postnatal development. A possible mediator of these effects is the immediate early genes whose protein products are involved in the rapid response of neurons to transsynaptic stimulation. Here we report evidence that the levels of immediate early gene mRNAs in the visual cortex can be altered by manipulating the visual environment. Specifically, we find that brief (1 h) visual experience in dark-reared cats causes dramatic transient inductions of egr1, c-fos, and junB mRNAs in the visual cortex but not in the frontal cortex. Levels of c-jun and c-myc mRNAs are unaffected. These results suggest that select combinatorial interactions of immediate early gene proteins are an important step in the cascade of events through which visually elicited activity controls visual cortical development.

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