Visual experience before eye-opening and the development of the retinogeniculate pathway.
Akerman CJ., Smyth D., Thompson ID.
Visual experience before eye-opening is not usually thought to have any developmental significance. Here we show that naturalistic visual stimuli presented through unopened eyelids robustly activate neurons in the ferret dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Further, dark-rearing prior to natural eye-opening has striking effects upon geniculate physiology. Receptive field maps after dark-rearing show increased convergence of On- and Off-center responses, and neurons frequently respond to both bright and dark phases of drifting gratings. There is also increased selectivity for the orientation of the gratings. These abnormalities of On-Off segregation can be explained by the finding that the responses of immature On and Off cells to naturalistic stimuli are strongly anticorrelated.