Binocular visual training to promote recovery from monocular deprivation
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Abnormal early visual experience often leads to poor vision, a condition called amblyopia. Two recent approaches to treating amblyopia include binocular therapies and intensive visual training. These reflect the emerging view that amblyopia is a binocular deficit caused by increased neural noise and poor signal-in-noise integration. Most perceptual learning studies have used monocular training; however, a recent study has shown that binocular training is effective for improving acuity in adult human amblyopes. We used an animal model of amblyopia, based on monocular deprivation, to compare the effect of binocular training either during or after the critical period for ocular dominance plasticity (early binocular training vs. late binocular training). We used a high-contrast, orientation-in-noise stimulus to drive the visual cortex because neurophysiological findings suggest that binocular training may allow the nondeprived eye to teach the deprived eye's circuits to function. We found that both early and late binocular training promoted good visual recovery. Surprisingly, we found that monocular deprivation caused a permanent deficit in the vision of both eyes, which became evident only as a sleeper effect following many weeks of visual training.
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