Visual deprivation alters the development of cortical multisensory integration.

Carriere BN, Royal DW, Perrault TJ, Morrison SP, Vaughan JW, Stein BE, Wallace MT
J Neurophysiol. 2007 98 (5): 2858-67

PMID: 17728386 · DOI:10.1152/jn.00587.2007

It has recently been demonstrated that the maturation of normal multisensory circuits in the cortex of the cat takes place over an extended period of postnatal life. Such a finding suggests that the sensory experiences received during this time may play an important role in this developmental process. To test the necessity of sensory experience for normal cortical multisensory development, cats were raised in the absence of visual experience from birth until adulthood, effectively precluding all visual and visual-nonvisual multisensory experiences. As adults, semichronic single-unit recording experiments targeting the anterior ectosylvian sulcus (AES), a well-defined multisensory cortical area in the cat, were initiated and continued at weekly intervals in anesthetized animals. Despite having very little impact on the overall sensory representations in AES, dark-rearing had a substantial impact on the integrative capabilities of multisensory AES neurons. A significant increase was seen in the proportion of multisensory neurons that were modulated by, rather than driven by, a second sensory modality. More important, perhaps, there was a dramatic shift in the percentage of these modulated neurons in which the pairing of weakly effective and spatially and temporally coincident stimuli resulted in response depressions. In normally reared animals such combinations typically give rise to robust response enhancements. These results illustrate the important role sensory experience plays in shaping the development of mature multisensory cortical circuits and suggest that dark-rearing shifts the relative balance of excitation and inhibition in these circuits.

MeSH Terms (10)

Action Potentials Animals Cats Cerebral Cortex Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation Neurons, Afferent Physical Stimulation Reaction Time Sensation Sensory Deprivation

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