Reversal of the physiological effects of monocular deprivation in the kitten's visual cortex.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Twenty‐three kittens were monocularly deprived of vision until the age of 4, 5, 6 or 7 weeks. Their deprived eyes were then opened, and their experienced eyes shut for a further 3‐63 days. After this time physiological recordings were made in the visual cortex, area 17. Three control kittens, monocularly deprived for various periods, showed that at the time of reverse‐suturing, few neurones could be influenced at all from the deprived eye. 2. Following reverse‐suturing, the initially deprived eye regained control of cortical neurones. This switch of cortical ocular dominance was most rapid following reverse‐suturing at the age of 4 weeks. Delaying the age of reverse‐suturing reduced the rate and then the extent of the cortical ocular dominance changes. 3. The cortex of reverse‐sutured kittens is divided into regions of cells dominated by one eye or the other. The relative sizes of these ocular dominance columns changed during reversed deprivation. The columns devoted to the initially deprived eye were very small in animals reverse‐sutured for brief periods, but in animals that underwent longer periods of reversed deprivation, the columns driven by that eye were larger, while those devoted to the initially open eye were smaller. 4. Clear progressions of orientation columns across the cortex were apparent in many of the kittens, but, in contrast to the situation in normal or strabismic kittens, these sequences were disrupted at the borders of eye dominance columns: the cortical representations of orientation and ocular dominance were not independent. 5. Binocular units in these kittens were rather rare, but those that could be found often had dissimilar receptive field properties in the two eyes. Commonly, a cell would have a normal orientation selective receptive field in one eye, and an immature, unselective receptive field in the other. Cells that had orientation selective receptive fields in both eyes often had greatly differing orientation preferences in the two eyes, occasionally by nearly 90 degrees. 6. During the reversal of deprivation effects, the proportion of receptive fields exhibiting mature properties declined in the initially experienced eye, while the proportion increased in the initially deprived eye. Similarly, the average band width of orientation tuning of receptive fields in the initially deprived eye decreased, while that of receptive fields in the initially experienced eye increased. 7. One kitten was reverse‐sutured twice, to demonstrate that cortical ocular dominance may be reversed a second time, even after one reversal of ocular dominance. 8. It is suggested that the sensitive period for cortical binocular development consists of two phases. In the first phase, all cortical neurones may be modified by experience, but the rate at which they may be modified decreases with age. In the second phase, an increasing number of cortical neurones becomes fixed in their properties, while those that remain modifiable are as modifiable as they were at the end of the first phase. 9...

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-174
Number of pages50
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reversal of the physiological effects of monocular deprivation in the kitten's visual cortex.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this