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Keywords:

  • behaviour;
  • critical period;
  • deprivation;
  • Hebb;
  • vision

Abstract

Monocular deprivation in mice between postnatal days 19 and 32 has been reported to significantly shift ocular dominance within the binocular region of primary visual cortex; however, it is not known whether visual deprivation in mice during this physiologically defined critical period also results in amblyopia, as it does in other mammals. We addressed this uncertainty by psychophysically assessing in adulthood (postnatal day 70 or older) the grating acuity of normal and monocularly deprived mice, using the Visual Water Task. The visual acuity of mice tested with their nondeprived eyes was equivalent to that of normal mice (≈ 0.5 cycles/degree); however, acuity measured with eyes monocularly deprived of vision transiently between postnatal days 19 and 32 was reduced by over 30% (≈ 0.31 cycles/degree). Identical binocular deprivation produced a significant, but smaller, decrease in acuity (≈ 0.38 cycles/degree). The effects of monocular and binocular deprivation were long lasting and occurred only if visual deprivation occurred between postnatal days 19 and 32. These data indicate that the deleterious effects of early visual deprivation on visual acuity in mice are similar to those reported in other mammals, and together with electrophysiological evidence of ocular dominance plasticity, suggest that the mechanisms of mouse visual plasticity are fundamentally the same as that in other mammals. Therefore, the mouse is probably a good model for investigating the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying visual developmental plasticity and amblyopia.