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Ocular dominance columns in strabismus



During development, the projection from the lateral geniculate nucleus to striate cortex becomes segregated into monocular regions called ocular dominance columns. Prior studies in cats have suggested that experimental strabismus or alternating monocular occlusion increases the width and segregation of columns. In the squirrel monkey, strabismus has been reported to induce the formation of ocular dominance columns. However, these studies are difficult to interpret because no animal can serve as its own control and the degree of inter-individual variability among normal subjects is considerable. We have re-examined the effect of strabismus on ocular dominance columns in a large group of strabismic and normal squirrel monkeys. Five animals rendered strabismic at age one week had well-developed, widely spaced columns. Among 16 control animals, a wide spectrum of column morphology was encountered. Some control animals lacked ocular dominance columns, whereas others had columns similar to those observed in strabismic animals. Natural variation in column expression in normal squirrel monkeys, and potential uncontrolled genetic influences, made it impossible to determine if strabismus affects ocular dominance columns. It was evident however, that strabismus does not affect the binocular projection from the lateral geniculate nucleus to each CO patch in the upper layers. In strabismic monkeys, just as in normal animals, each patch received input from geniculate afferents serving both the left eye and the right eye. In addition, in strabismic monkeys, as in normal animals, patches were not aligned with ocular dominance columns.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Daniel L. Adams, Beckman Vision Center, 10 Koret Way, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143. E-mail:


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Ocular dominance columns in strabismus



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