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Effects of unilateral visual deprivation on the developing avian brain


The effect of varying states of visual deprivation on the development of the optic lobes and cerebral hemispheres has been studied in the chick where the visual pathways are totally crossed over. Unilateral eye extirpation of the new hatched chick resulted in arrested development of the contralateral but not ipsilateral lobe, as measured by weight, protein content and acetylcholinesterase activity. Similar effects but of smaller magnitude were observed in the cerebral hemispheres. Histologic and enzymic evidence revealed the absence of significant degeneration in the optic lobe contralateral to an eye removed 17 days previously. These results were observed in the optic lobes of operated animals maintained either in light of in darkness between 3 and 17 days after hatch. However, in the inpaired cerebral hemispheres, differences could only be detected in birds kept the light. The effects of unilateral eyelid suturing on the development of chick brain regions were also examined. In this group, all asymmetrical differences observed within paired brain regions were totally light dependent and confined to the cerebral hemispheres. The hemisphere contralateral to the sutured eye weighed less and had less acetylcholinesterase activity than its paired hemisphere. The cerebral hemispheres of monocularly treated birds manifested effects of similar magnitude whether the treatment was enucleation or suturing. This suggests that the complete development of the associative centers in avian cerebral hemispheres is dependent on both intact innervation and on the information content of the visual input. © 1969.

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