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Keywords:

  • Plasticity;
  • development;
  • visual cortex;
  • dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus;
  • fluorescent retrograde tracer;
  • albinism

Abstract

The consequence of neonatal eye removal on the adult organization of the geniculo-cortical pathway was studied anatomically in hamsters. Separate discrete injections of rhodamine- and green-fluorescent latex microspheres were made into the primary visual cortex of adult hamsters. The distribution of labelling in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) of normal animals was compared with that seen in animals monocularly enucleated at birth. In the normal animals, as expected, the projection has a precise topographic order. This is also true of the projection contralateral to the remaining eye in the enucleated animals. However, on the side ipsilateral to the remaining eye, the visual cortex appears to receive two convergent projections from the deafferented dLGN, one mirroring the other. A single injection made in very lateral cortex labels cells in two discrete regions of the dLGN. As the injection is made progressively more medial, the two patches of labelled cells converge. Eventually, the two patches are no longer discrete so that injections into central area 17 produce just one, extended patch of labelling. These results suggest that the altered retinal input to the dLGN may affect the subsequent development of ordered geniculo-cortical projections.