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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Feb;15(1):94-100.

A precritical period for plasticity in visual cortex.

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Neurobiology Section 0357, UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0357, USA.


One of the seminal discoveries in developmental neuroscience is that altering visual experience through monocular deprivation can alter both the physiological and the anatomical representation of the two eyes, called ocular dominance columns, in primary visual cortex. This rearrangement is restricted to a critical period that starts a few days or weeks after vision is established and ends before adulthood. In contrast to the original hypothesis proposed by Hubel and Wiesel, ocular dominance columns are already substantially formed before the onset of the critical period. Indeed, before the critical period there is a period of ocular dominance column formation during which there is robust spontaneous activity and visual experience. Recent findings raise important questions about whether activity guides ocular dominance column formation in this 'precritical period'. One developmental event that marks the passage from the precritical period to the critical period is the activation of a GABAergic circuit. How these events trigger the transition from the precritical to critical period is not known.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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