Faculty Articles

Title

Effects of the duration of early strabismus on the binocular responses of neurons in the monkey visual cortex (V1)

ISBN or ISSN

0146-0404

Volume

43

Issue

4

Publication Date / Copyright Date

1-1-2002

First Page

1262

Last Page

1269

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To determine how the duration of early strabismus influences the severity of loss of disparity sensitivity in V1 neurons and the effects of extensive poststrabismus visual experience on the maintenance of functional binocular connections.

METHODS:

Concomitant strabismus was optically simulated in 10 rhesus monkeys using a prism-rearing procedure. The onset of strabismus was kept constant at 4 weeks of age and the duration was maintained for 2, 4, or 8 weeks. In one group of monkeys (infants), the neurophysiological experiments were conducted immediately after the period of rearing with prisms. In another group (adults), after the termination of the prism-rearing regimen at either 8 or 12 weeks of age, the monkeys were kept in a normal housing environment until maturity and behavioral testing was conducted before the recording experiments to determine the animal's monocular and binocular visual capacities. To assess the effects of the period of early strabismus on binocular interactions in V1, extracellular single-unit recording methods were used in anesthetized and paralyzed monkeys, and dichoptic sine-wave gratings were used as stimuli.

RESULTS:

In all strabismic monkeys, the sensitivity of V1 units to interocular spatial phase disparity (disparity sensitivity) was significantly reduced, and the prevalence of binocular suppression was higher than that found in age-matched control animals. Although 8 weeks of strabismus resulted in a slightly larger loss of disparity sensitivity, the overall effects of the duration of strabismus were surprisingly small in infant strabismic monkeys. After poststrabismus visual experience, a small but significantly higher degree of disparity sensitivity was noted in V1 if prism-rearing was terminated after 4 weeks of strabismus (i.e., at 8 weeks of age), but not after 8 weeks of strabismus (i.e., at 12 weeks of age).

CONCLUSIONS:

A brief period (2 weeks) of misalignment after the emergence of stereopsis is sufficient to drastically reduce the functional binocular connections in V1, and longer periods of strabismus result in little additional loss in disparity sensitivity. Clinically, these results suggest that taking corrective measures for infantile esotropes before the known onset age for stereopsis may be important for maintaining better binocular sensory function and better interocular alignment at later stages of development.

Disciplines

Optometry

Peer Reviewed

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