Neonatal Section of the Optic Chiasm Changes the Interhemispheric Transfer of Visual Information in Cats


Silvia Bisti, as above


Recent studies in adult split-chiasm cats show that the contrast gain of the visual callosal pathway is considerably lower than the gain of the direct geniculocortical system and that high spatial and temporal frequencies are strongly attenuated in the process of callosal transfer. We recorded visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and single unit activities from visual cortical areas 17 and 18 in cats which had the optic chiasm sectioned at 3 weeks of age. Our results show that, unlike the animals sectioned as adults, the contrast gain and the spatial and temporal acuities of the callosal pathway of young split-chiasm cats were as good as the direct retinogeniculocortical pathway. Thus, under the present experimental conditions all the spatial and temporal information processed in areas 17 and 18 of one hemicortex is transferred to the other hemicortex via the callosal connections. These animals have also been tested behaviourally for the interocular (interhemispheric) transfer of learning of patterns of high spatial frequency and low contrast. In agreement with the electrophysiological results, we find a complete interocular transfer for this behavioural task. We conclude that the functional development of the interhemispheric connections can be modified by an early section of the optic chiasm and therefore the loss in binocular convergence can be partially compensated.