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

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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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