Monocular enucleation (ME) drastically affects the contralateral visual cortex, where plasticity phenomena drive specific adaptations to compensate for the unilateral loss of vision. In adult mice, complete reactivation of deprived visual cortex involves an early visually driven recovery followed by multimodal plasticity 3 to 7 weeks post ME (Van Brussel et al.  Cereb. Cortex 21:2133-2146). Here, we specifically investigated the age dependence of the onset and the exact timing of both ME-induced reactivation processes by comparing cortical activity patterns of mice enucleated at postnatal day (P) 45, 90, or 120. A swifter open-eye potentiated reactivation characterized the binocular visual cortex of P45 mice. Nevertheless, even after 7 weeks, the reactivation remained incomplete, especially in the monocular cortex medial to V1. In comparison with P45, emergent cross-modal participation was demonstrated in P90 animals, although robust reactivation similar to enucleated adults (P120) was not achieved yet. Concomitantly, at 7 weeks post ME, somatosensory and auditory cortex shifted from a hypoactive state in P45 to hyperactivity in P120. Thus, we provide evidence for a presensitive period in which gradual recruitment of cross-modal recovery upon long-term ME coincides with the transition from adolescence to adulthood in mice.
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