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Nature. 2002 Mar 28;416(6879):430-3.

Correlated binocular activity guides recovery from monocular deprivation.

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University Laboratory of Physiology, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


Monocular deprivation (MD) has much more rapid and severe effects on the ocular dominance of neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) than does binocular deprivation. This finding underlies the widely held hypothesis that the developmental plasticity of ocular dominance reflects competitive interactions for synaptic space between inputs from the two eyes. According to this view, the relative levels of evoked activity in afferents representing the two eyes determine functional changes in response to altered visual experience. However, if the deprived eye of a monocularly deprived kitten is simply reopened, there is substantial physiological and behavioural recovery, leading to the suggestion that absolute activity levels, or some other non-competitive mechanisms, determine the degree of recovery from MD. Here we provide evidence that correlated binocular input is essential for such recovery. Recovery is far less complete if the two eyes are misaligned after a period of MD. This is a powerful demonstration of the importance of cooperative, associative mechanisms in the developing visual cortex.

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