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A neurochemical signature of visual recovery after extrastriate cortical damage in the adult cat

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Abstract

In adult cats, damage to the extrastriate visual cortex on the banks of the lateral suprasylvian (LS) sulcus causes severe deficits in motion perception that can recover as a result of intensive direction discrimination training. The fact that recovery is restricted to trained visual field locations suggests that the neural circuitry of early visual cortical areas, with their tighter retinotopy, may play an important role in attaining perceptual improvements after damage to higher level visual cortex. The present study tests this hypothesis by comparing the manner in which excitatory and inhibitory components of the supragranular circuitry in an early visual cortical area (area 18) are affected by LS lesions and postlesion training. First, the proportion of LS-projecting pyramidal cells as well as calbindin- and parvalbumin-positive interneurons expressing each of the four AMPA receptor subunits was estimated in layers II and III of area 18 in intact animals. The degree to which LS lesions and visual retraining altered these expression patterns was then assessed. Both LS-projecting pyramidal cells and inhibitory interneurons exhibited long-term, differential reductions in the expression of glutamate receptor (GluR)1, -2, -2/3, and -4 following LS lesions. Intensive visual training post lesion restored normal AMPAR subunit expression in all three cell-types examined. Furthermore, for LS-projecting and calbindin-positive neurons, this restoration occurred only in portions of the ipsi-lesional area 18 representing trained visual field locations. This supports our hypothesis that stimulation of early visual cortical areas—in this case, area 18—by training is an important factor in restoring visual perception after permanent damage to LS cortex. J. Comp. Neurol. 508:45–61, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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