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J Neurosci. 2015 Oct 28;35(43):14612-23. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1365-15.2015.

Increasing Spontaneous Retinal Activity before Eye Opening Accelerates the Development of Geniculate Receptive Fields.

Author information

Center for Neuroscience.
Center for Neuroscience, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, and.
Center for Neuroscience, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, and Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95618


Visually evoked activity is necessary for the normal development of the visual system. However, little is known about the capacity for patterned spontaneous activity to drive the maturation of receptive fields before visual experience. Retinal waves provide instructive retinotopic information for the anatomical organization of the visual thalamus. To determine whether retinal waves also drive the maturation of functional responses, we increased the frequency of retinal waves pharmacologically in the ferret (Mustela putorius furo) during a period of retinogeniculate development before eye opening. The development of geniculate receptive fields after receiving these increased neural activities was measured using single-unit electrophysiology. We found that increased retinal waves accelerate the developmental reduction of geniculate receptive field sizes. This reduction is due to a decrease in receptive field center size rather than an increase in inhibitory surround strength. This work reveals an instructive role for patterned spontaneous activity in guiding the functional development of neural circuits.


LGN; electrophysiology; ferret; receptive field; retinal waves; spontaneous activity

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