May 18, 2021

Correction of amblyopia in cats and mice after the critical period

<p>Monocular deprivation early in development causes amblyopia, a severe visual impairment. Prognosis is poor if therapy is initiated after an early critical period. However, clinical observations have shown that recovery from amblyopia can occur later in life when the non-deprived (fellow) eye is removed. The traditional interpretation of this finding is that vision is improved by relieving interocular suppression in primary visual cortex. However, an alternative explanation is that elimination of activity in the fellow eye establishes conditions in visual cortex that enable the weak connections from the amblyopic eye to gain strength. Here we show in cats and mice that temporary inactivation of the fellow eye is sufficient to promote a full and enduring recovery from amblyopia at ages when conventional treatments fail. Thus, connections serving the amblyopic eye are capable of substantial plasticity beyond the critical period, and this potential is unleashed by reversibly silencing the fellow eye.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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