Kevin Duffy, PhD
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University
Monday, December 3, 2018
11:10 am - 12:30 pm
489 Minor Hall
Enhanced Capacity for Neural Plasticity Following Immersion in Darkness or Retinal Inactivation
Brain regions that support visual perception complete their development early in postnatal life when visual experience informs the proper development of neurons and their connections. Disruption of normal visual experience during this formative period, as can happen with cataracts or refractive errors, alters the development of neural connections and can result in the leading cause of vision impairment in children called amblyopia. We have demonstrated fast and complete recovery from amblyopia in animals exposed to complete darkness. Our investigation of the molecular changes underlying this recovery suggests that darkness reverses the accumulation of proteins thought to attenuate the capacity for neural plasticity and recovery. More recently we have observed a similar remarkable recovery from the effects of visual deprivation following temporary retinal inactivation with intraocular application of tetrodotoxin, a potent neural anesthetic. Notably, retinal inactivation produced significant postcritical-period recovery well beyond that achieved by conventional therapy. This talk will present results from our studies on the use of darkness and retinal inactivation to enhance plasticity capacity and promote recovery from the effects of early visual deprivation.