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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1991 Jul 29;333(1266):51-79.

The long-term effectiveness of different regimens of occlusion on recovery from early monocular deprivation in kittens.

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Psychology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Although the behavioural effects of an early period of monocular deprivation imposed on kittens can be very severe, resembling an extreme form of the human clinical condition deprivation amblyopia, they are not necessarily irreversible. Considerable behavioural as well as physiological recovery can occur if normal visual input is restored to the deprived eye sufficiently early, particularly if the other (initially non-deprived) eye is occluded at the same time (reverse occlusion). However, past work has shown that in many situations the improvement in the vision of the initially deprived eye that occurs during reverse occlusion is not retained following the subsequent introduction of binocular visual input. Furthermore, the vision of the other eye is often reduced as well, with the result that the eventual outcome is a condition of bilateral amblyopia. This study first examines the consequences of several periods of reverse occlusion whose onset and duration would be thought to maximize the opportunity for good and long-standing recovery of vision in the initially deprived eye. However, only in a very restricted set of exposure conditions did animals acquire good vision in one or both eyes; in most situations the final outcome was one of bilateral amblyopia. A second set of experiments examined the consequences of various regimens of part-time reverse occlusion, where the initially non-deprived eye was occluded for only part of each day to allow a period of binocular visual exposure, on kittens that had been monocularly deprived until 6, 8, 10 or 12 weeks of age. Whereas short or long daily periods of occlusion of the initially non-deprived eye resulted eventually in amblyopia in one, or usually both, eyes, certain intermediate occlusion times (3.5 or 5 h each day) resulted in recovery of normal acuities, contrast sensitivity and vernier acuity in both eyes, in animals that had been monocularly deprived until 6, 8 or 10 weeks of age, but not in animals deprived for longer periods. Experiments were done to establish some of the factors that contributed to the successful outcome associated with certain of the regimens of part-time reverse occlusion. It was established that recovery was just as good in animals in which the visual axes were vertically misaligned by means of prisms during the daily period of binocular visual exposure, thereby indicating that the visual input to the two eyes need not be concordant. However, animals that received equivalent visual exposure of the two eyes each day, but successively rather than simultaneously, all developed very severe bilateral amblyopia.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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