Experience-Driven Axon Retraction without Binocular Imbalance in Developing Visual Cortex

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Refinement of the neural circuit during brain maturation is regulated by experience-driven neural activity. In the mammalian visual cortex, monocular visual deprivation (MD) in the early postnatal life causes a significant loss of cortical responses to a deprived eye and the retraction of input axons serving the deprived eye [1-3]. A competitive interaction between inputs serving both eyes has been supposed to underlie the effects of MD because the loss of cortical response is much weaker when both eyes are deprived of vision [4]. Also, the input axons do not retract after binocular deprivation [5]. Here, we report that uncorrelated activity between presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons can solely lead to the retraction of geniculocortical axons in the absence of activity imbalance between two inputs. We analyzed the morphology of geniculocortical axons in a pharmacologically inhibited visual cortex of animals with normal vision and of binocularly deprived animals. In the normal vision animals, the axonal arbors in the inhibited cortex showed robust retraction. On the other hand, the arbors in binocularly deprived animals remained mostly intact. These results suggest that a homosynaptic associative mechanism, rather than a heterosynaptic competition between inputs, may play an important role in experience-driven axon retraction. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Haruta, M., & Hata, Y. (2007). Experience-Driven Axon Retraction without Binocular Imbalance in Developing Visual Cortex. Current Biology, 17(1), 37–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.064

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