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Neuron. 2006 Oct 19;52(2):247-54.

Spontaneous retinal activity mediates development of ocular dominance columns and binocular receptive fields in v1.

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  • 1Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


The mechanisms that give rise to ocular dominance columns (ODCs) during development are controversial. Early experiments indicated a key role for retinal activity in ODC formation. However, later studies showed that in those early experiments, the retinal activity perturbation was initiated after ODCs had already formed. Moreover, recent studies concluded that early eye removals do not impact ODC segregation. Here we blocked spontaneous retinal activity during the very early stages of ODC development. This permanently disrupted the anatomical organization of ODCs and led to a dramatic increase in receptive field size for binocular cells in primary visual cortex. Our data suggest that early spontaneous retinal activity conveys crucial information about whether thalamocortical axons represent one or the other eye and that this activity mediates binocular competition important for shaping receptive fields in primary visual cortex.

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