TrkB activation during a critical period mimics the protective effects of early visual experience on perception and the stability of receptive fields in adult superior colliculus

David B. Mudd, Timothy S. Balmer, So Yeon Kim, Noura Machhour, Sarah L. Pallas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

During a critical period in development, spontaneous and evoked retinal activity shape visual pathways in an adaptive fashion. Interestingly, spontaneous activity is sufficient for spatial refinement of visual receptive fields (RFs) in superior colliculus (SC) and visual cortex (V1), but early visual experience is necessary to maintain inhibitory synapses and stabilize RFs in adulthood (Carrasco et al., 2005, 2011; Carrasco and Pallas, 2006; Balmer and Pallas, 2015a). In V1, BDNF and its high-affinity receptor TrkB are important for development of visual acuity, inhibition, and regulation of the critical period for ocular dominance plasticity (Hanover et al., 1999; Huang et al., 1999; Gianfranceschi et al., 2003). To examine the generality of this signaling pathway for visual system plasticity, the present study examined the role of TrkB signaling during the critical period for RF refinement in SC. Activating TrkB receptors during the critical period (P33-P40) in dark reared subjects produced normally refined RFs, and blocking TrkB receptors in light-exposed animals resulted in enlarged adult RFs like those in dark reared animals. We also report here that deprivation-or TrkB blockade-induced RF enlargement in adulthood impaired fear responses to looming overhead stimuli and negatively impacted visual acuity. Thus, early TrkB activation is both necessary and sufficient to maintain visual RF refinement, robust looming responses, and visual acuity in adulthood. These findings suggest a common signaling pathway exists for the maturation of inhibition between V1 and SC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4475-4488
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume39
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 5 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adult plasticity
  • Inhibitory plasticity
  • Retinotectal
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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