Evidence for Cross-Modal Plasticity in Adult Mouse Visual Cortex Following Monocular Enucleation

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The goal of this study was to assess cortical reorganization in the visual system of adult mice in detail. A combination of deprivation of one eye and stimulation of the remaining eye previously led to the identification of input-specific subdivisions in mouse visual cortex. Using this information as a reference map, we established to what extent each of these functional subdivisions take part in cortical reactivation and reorganization upon unilateral enucleation. A recovery experiment revealed a differential laminar and temporal reactivation profile. Initiation of infragranular recovery of molecular activity near the border with nonvisual cortex and simultaneous hyperactivation of this adjacent cortex implied a partial nonvisual contribution to this plasticity. The strong effect of somatosensory deprivation as well as stimulation on infragranular visual cortex activation in long-term enucleated animals support this view. Furthermore, targeted tracer injections in visual cortex of control and enucleated animals revealed preexisting connections between the visual and somatosensory cortices of adult mice as possible mediators. In conclusion, this study supports an important cross-modal component in reorganization of adult mouse visual cortex upon monocular enucleation.

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