Laminar differences in plasticity in area 17 following retinal lesions in kittens or adult cats
Circumscribed retinal lesions in adult cats result in a reorganization of circuitry in area 17 such that neurons in the lesion projection zone (LPZ) can now be activated, not from their original receptive fields (RFs) but from regions of normal retina adjacent to the lesion ('ectopic' RFs). We have studied this phenomenon further by making circumscribed monocular retinal lesions in 8-week-old kittens and recording responses to visual stimuli of neurons in the LPZ of area 17 when these cats reached adulthood. These responses have been compared with those in adult-lesioned cats either of relatively short postlesion survival (2-24 weeks) or long postlesion survival (3.5-4.5 years). In both kitten-lesioned and adult-lesioned animals most LPZ neurons recorded from the supragranular layers (II and III) not only exhibited new ectopic RFs when stimuli were presented via the lesioned eye but the RF properties (e.g. the sizes of excitatory RFs, orientation and direction selectivities, velocity preferences and upper cut-off velocities) were often indistinguishable from those seen when stimuli were presented via the nonlesioned eye. Similarly, in both kitten-lesioned and adult-lesioned animals, most LPZ neurons recorded from the granular and infragranular layers (IV, V, VI), like those recorded from the supragranular layers, were binocular. However, in adult-lesioned but not in kitten-lesioned animals, the responses and the upper cut-off velocities of LPZ cells recorded from the granular and infragranular layers to stimuli presented via ectopic RFs tended to be, respectively, substantially weaker and lower than those for stimuli presented via the nonlesioned eye. The age-related laminar differences in reorganizational plasticity of cat striate cortex correlate with the lamino-temporal pattern of distribution of N -methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors in striate cortex.