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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2005 Jun 9;157(1):107-11.

Early alcohol exposure impairs ocular dominance plasticity throughout the critical period.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, 1101 E Marshall Street, Sanger Hall Room 12-042, Richmond, VA 23298-0709, USA.


Animal models of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) have revealed an impairment of sensory neocortex plasticity. Here, we examine whether early alcohol exposure leads to a permanent impairment of ocular dominance plasticity (OD) or to an alteration in the timing of the critical period. Ferrets were exposed to alcohol during a brief period of development prior to eye opening and effects of monocular deprivation examined during early, mid and late critical period. Single-unit electrophysiology revealed markedly reduced OD plasticity at every age examined. This finding provides evidence that early alcohol exposure does not affect the timing or duration of the critical period of OD plasticity and suggests an enduring impairment of neural plasticity in FAS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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