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Neuron. 2002 Jan 31;33(3):357-67.

An instructive role for retinal waves in the development of retinogeniculate connectivity.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, 220 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


A central hypothesis of neural development is that patterned activity drives the refinement of initially imprecise connections. We have examined this hypothesis directly by altering the frequency of spontaneous waves of activity that sweep across the mammalian retina prior to vision. Activity levels were increased in vivo using agents that elevate cAMP. When one eye is made more active, its layer within the LGN is larger despite the other eye having normal levels of activity. Remarkably, when the frequency of retinal waves is increased in both eyes, normally sized layers form. Because relative, rather than absolute, levels of activity between the eyes regulate the amount of LGN territory devoted to each eye, we conclude that activity acts instructively to guide binocular segregation during development.

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