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Contrasting effects of strabismic amblyopia on metabolic activity in superficial and deep layers of striate cortex.

  • Author(s): Adams, Daniel L
  • Economides, John R
  • Horton, Jonathan C
  • et al.

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To probe the mechanism of visual suppression, we have raised macaques with strabismus by disinserting the medial rectus muscle in each eye at 1 mo of age. Typically, this operation produces a comitant, alternating exotropia with normal acuity in each eye. Here we describe an unusual occurrence: the development of severe amblyopia in one eye of a monkey after induction of exotropia. Shortly after surgery, the animal demonstrated a strong fixation preference for the left eye, with apparent suppression of the right eye. Later, behavioral testing showed inability to track or to saccade to targets with the right eye. With the left eye occluded, the animal demonstrated no visually guided behavior. Optokinetic nystagmus was absent in the right eye. Metabolic activity in striate cortex was assessed by processing the tissue for cytochrome oxidase (CO). Amblyopia caused loss of CO in one eye's rows of patches, presumably those serving the blind eye. Layers 4A and 4B showed columns of reduced CO, in register with pale rows of patches in layer 2/3. Layers 4C, 5, and 6 also showed columns of CO activity, but remarkably, comparison with more superficial layers showed a reversal in contrast. In other words, pale CO staining in layers 2/3, 4A, and 4B was aligned with dark CO staining in layers 4C, 5, and 6. No experimental intervention or deprivation paradigm has been reported previously to produce opposite effects on metabolic activity in layers 2/3, 4A, and 4B vs. layers 4C, 5, and 6 within a given eye's columns.

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