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J Neurophysiol. 1990 Dec;64(6):1851-60.

Lesions of nonvisual inputs affect plasticity, norepinephrine content, and acetylcholine content of visual cortex.

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Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403.


1. The depletion of both norepinephrine (NE) and acetylcholine (ACh) in the visual cortex can decrease plasticity. This decrease in plasticity, although dramatic under some circumstances, fails to occur under others. 2. We depleted cortical NE and ACh in 35- to 42-day-old kittens by making a lesion of the white matter behind the cingulate gyrus. One eye was sutured on the day of the lesion. We recorded from the visual cortex 7 days or 2-3 mo later and used the influence of the deprived eye on the cortical cells as a measure of plasticity. 3. We measured NE content by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and inferred ACh depletion from depletion of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity. NE depletion averaged 60% in the successfully depleted animals. Depletion of ChAT activity was consistent with NE depletion. 4. When recording occurred 7 days after the lesion and the sutured eye was contralateral to the lesion, plasticity was decreased on the side with the lesion; 70% of the cells were driven by the deprived eye. On the control, uninjured side only 15% of the cells were driven by the deprived eye. 5. In two circumstances the lesion did not cause a decrease in plasticity. In animals with suture ipsilateral to the lesion, the cortex remained plastic. In these animals only 26% of the cells in the hemisphere with the lesion were driven by the deprived eye. The cortex also retained its plasticity if the contralateral eye remained sutured for several months after the lesion, even though there was no recovery from NE and ACh depletion. 6. We conclude that depletion of NE and ACh does decrease plasticity; that is, it protects the deprived eye from losing its ability to drive cortical cells, at least for a short period of time. Depletion protects only the normally dominant contralateral pathway; the ipsilateral visual pathway remains plastic. 7. Perhaps the importance of the side of the deprived eye can be explained by assuming that depletion of NE and ACh removes facilitatory input. This would decrease the ability of cortical cells on the side with lesion to potentiate the input from the nondeprived eye relative to the deprived eye; that is, it would decrease the molecular deprivation (MD) effect. A removal of facilitation would also increase the visual input required to drive cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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