Callosal contribution to ocular dominance in rat primary visual cortex


Matteo Caleo, PhD, as above.


Ocular dominance (OD) plasticity triggered by monocular eyelid suture is a classic paradigm for studying experience-dependent changes in neural connectivity. Recently, rodents have become the most popular model for studies of OD plasticity. It is therefore important to determine how OD is determined in the rodent primary visual cortex. In particular, cortical cells receive considerable inputs from the contralateral hemisphere via callosal axons, but the role of these connections in controlling eye preference remains controversial. Here we have examined the role of callosal connections in binocularity of the visual cortex in naïve young rats. We recorded cortical responses evoked by stimulation of each eye before and after acute silencing, via stereotaxic tetrodotoxin (TTX) injection, of the lateral geniculate nucleus ipsilateral to the recording site. This protocol allowed us to isolate visual responses transmitted via the corpus callosum. Cortical binocularity was assessed by visual evoked potential (VEP) and single-unit recordings. We found that acute silencing of afferent geniculocortical input produced a very significant reduction in the contralateral-to-ipsilateral (C/I) VEP ratio, and a marked shift towards the ipsilateral eye in the OD distribution of cortical cells. Analysis of absolute strength of each eye indicated a dramatic decrease in contralateral eye responses following TTX, while those of the ipsilateral eye were reduced but maintained a more evident input. We conclude that callosal connections contribute to normal OD mainly by carrying visual input from the ipsilateral eye. These data have important implications for the interpretation of OD plasticity following alterations of visual experience.