Post-hatch activity-dependent modulation of visual asymmetry formation in pigeons

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Abstract

The embryonically induced visual lateralization in pigeons can be modified by occlusion of one eye after hatching. Here we show that this deprivation effect could be also attained by short-term blocking of retinal activity with tetrodotoxin (TTX), leading to a dominance of the ipsilateral hemisphere in a visual discrimination task. This lateralization pattern resulted from a performance increase conveyed by the non-deprived hemisphere, while performance with the TTX-injected eye did not differ from that of saline-injected controls. Thus, post-hatch modulation of visual lateralization is mediated by TTX-sensitive, activity-dependent neuronal mechanisms. The transient silencing of one visual input alters the activity balance between the left and right eye system, enhancing visuoperceptive skills in the relatively higher active hemisphere.

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