Effect of onset age of strabismus on the binocular responses of neurons in the monkey visual cortex
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By 6 weeks of age, neurons in the monkey's primary visual cortex acquire qualitatively adult-like binocular response properties and behaviorally stereopsis emerges. In this study, it was determined whether the onset of strabismus has a more severe impact on cortical binocularity before or after this critical developmental age.
Infant monkeys were fit with a light-weight helmet which held a total of 27 diopters of base-in prisms in front of their two eyes for a fixed period of two weeks. For one group of infant monkeys, prism-rearing began at 2 weeks of age and for a second group, the onset was at 6 weeks of age. Immediately after the rearing period, i.e., at 4 weeks and 8 weeks of age, respectively, extracellular single-unit recording methods were used to determine the nature and severity of alterations in the binocular response properties of V1 neurons. Dichoptic sinewave gratings were used as visual stimuli.
In comparison to normal age-matched infants, V1 neurons in both strabismic groups exhibited reductions in sensitivity to interocular spatial phase disparities (disparity sensitivity) and a higher prevalence of binocular inhibitory interactions (binocular suppression). However, the reduction in disparity sensitivity and the magnitude of binocular suppression were much greater in the late (6-8 weeks) than the early (2- 4 weeks) onset group.
Discordant binocular signals due to brief periods of early strabismus have more serious effects on the development of binocular properties of V1 neurons if they occur shortly after rather than before the emergence of stereopsis (i.e., when the binocular connections are relatively more mature but the visual cortex still shows a high degree of plasticity).
Kumagami, Takeshi; Zhang, Bin; Smith, Earl L. III; and Chino, Yuzo M., "Effect of onset age of strabismus on the binocular responses of neurons in the monkey visual cortex" (2000). Faculty Articles. 2.