Development of Cytochrome Oxidase Blobs in Visual Cortex of Normal and Visually Deprived Cats
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Cytochrome oxidase (CO) blobs are central to our understanding of the columnar organization and parallel pathways in primate and cat visual cortex. In primates, development of blobs and their relationship with other columnar features of the visual cortex begins pre-natally, before visual experience. In kittens, the supragranular layers differentiate post-natally, after eye opening, raising the possibility that visual experience may influence the development of blobs in cat V1. We have examined the development of blobs in unfolded and flattened sections through the visual cortex of normally reared, dark-reared, monocularly deprived and binocularly deprived kittens. Blobs were found in superficial layers of V1 of normally reared kittens as early as 2 weeks of age, although at this age the overall CO staining in V1 was lighter than in V2. By 6 weeks of age the blobs were adult-like. A patchy pattern of CO staining was also found in V2 of young kittens but not in adults. Visual experience was not necessary for expression of the blobs and monocularly deprived kittens had well developed blobs, indicating that strong Y cell drive is not necessary for the development of blobs in cat V1. CO blobs appear in kitten V1 very early in post-natal development and their expression is independent of visual experience, suggesting that they may be an intrinsic feature of V1 organization.