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Synchronizing retinal activity in both eyes disrupts binocular map development in the optic tectum

Brickley, S., Dawes, E., Keating, M. & Grant, S. (1998). Synchronizing retinal activity in both eyes disrupts binocular map development in the optic tectum. Journal of Neuroscience, 18(4), pp. 1491-1504.


Spatiotemporal correlations in the pattern of spontaneous and evoked retinal ganglion cell (RGC) activity are believed to influence the topographic organization of connections throughout the developing visual system. We have tested this hypothesis by examining the effects of interfering with these potential activity cues during development on the functional organization of binocular maps in the Xenopus frog optic tectum. Paired recordings combined with cross-correlation analyses demonstrated that exposing normal frogs to a continuous 1 Hz of stroboscopic illumination synchronized the firing of all three classes of RGC projecting to the tectum and induced similar patterns of temporally correlated activity across both lobes of the nucleus. Embryonic and eye-rotated larval animals were reared until early adulthood under equivalent stroboscopic conditions. The maps formed by each RGC class in the contralateral tectum showed normal topography and stratification after strobe rearing, but with consistently enlarged multiunit receptive fields. Maps of the ipsilateral eye, formed by crossed isthmotectal axons, showed significant disorder and misalignment with direct visual input from the retina, and in the eye-rotated animals complete compensatory reorientation of these maps usually induced by this procedure failed to occur. These findings suggest that refinement of retinal arbors in the tectum and the ability of crossed isthmotectal arbors to establish binocular convergence with these retinal afferents are disrupted when they all fire together. Our data thus provide direct experimental evidence that spatiotemporal activity patterns within and between the two eyes regulate the precision of their developing connections.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: retinal ganglion cell, nucleus isthmi, visual topography, stroboscopic illumination, correlated activity, synaptic plasticity, Xenopus laevis
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
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