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Learn Mem. 2007 Apr 6;14(4):277-86. Print 2007 Apr.

Monocular deprivation in adult mice alters visual acuity and single-unit activity.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


It has been discovered recently that monocular deprivation in young adult mice induces ocular dominance plasticity (ODP). This contradicts the traditional belief that ODP is restricted to a juvenile critical period. However, questions remain. ODP of young adults has been observed only using methods that are indirectly related to vision, and the plasticity of young adults appears diminished in comparison with juveniles. Therefore, we asked whether the newly discovered adult ODP broadly reflects plasticity of visual cortical function and whether it persists into full maturity. Single-unit activity is the standard physiological marker of visual cortical function. Using a more optimized protocol for recording single-units, we find evidence of adult ODP of single-units and show that it is most pronounced in deep cortical layers. Furthermore, using visual evoked potentials (VEP), we find that ODP is equally robust in young adults and mature adults and is observable after just one day of monocular deprivation. Finally, we find that monocular deprivation in adults changes spatial frequency thresholds of the VEP, decreasing the acuity of the deprived pathway and improving the acuity of the non-deprived pathway. Thus, in mice, the primary visual cortex is capable of remarkable adaptation throughout life.

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