Visual development in primates: Neural mechanisms and critical periods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite many decades of research into the development of visual cortex, it remains unclear what neural processes set limitations on the development of visual function and define its vulnerability to abnormal visual experience. This selected review examines the development of visual function and its neural correlates, and highlights the fact that in most cases receptive field properties of infant neurons are substantially more mature than infant visual function. One exception is temporal resolution, which can be accounted for by resolution of neurons at the level of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). In terms of spatial vision, properties of single neurons alone are not sufficient to account for visual development. Different visual functions develop over different time courses. Their onset may be limited by the existence of neural response properties that support a given perceptual ability, but the subsequent time course of maturation to adult levels remains unexplained. Several examples are offered suggesting that taking account of weak signaling by infant neurons, correlated firing, and pooled responses of populations of neurons brings us closer to an understanding of the relationship between neural and behavioral development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1080-1090
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Critical period
  • Extrastriate cortex
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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