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Prog Brain Res. 2005;147:125-39.

Structural plasticity in the developing visual system.

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  • 1Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute, Meibergdreef 47, 1105 BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The visual system has been used extensively to study cortical plasticity during development. Seminal experiments by Hubel and Wiesel (Wiesel, T.N. and Hubel, D.H. (1963) Single cell responses in striate cortex of kittens deprived of vision in one eye. J. Neurophysiol., 26: 1003-1017.) identified the visual cortex as a very attractive model for studying structural and functional plasticity regulated by experience. It was discovered that the thalamic projections to the visual cortex, and neuronal connectivity in the visual cortex itself, were organized in alternating columns dominated by input from the left or the right eye. This organization was shown to be strongly influenced by manipulating binocular input during a specific time point of postnatal development known as the critical period. Two chapters in this volume review the molecular and functional aspects of this form of plasticity. This chapter reviews the structural changes that occur during ocular dominance (OD) plasticity and their possible functional relevance, and discusses developments in the methods that allow the analysis of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate them.

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