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A physiological and behavioural study in cats of the effect of early visual experience with contours of a single orientation.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Biology


1. Three kittens were reared in visual environments that consisted of stripes at one of three orientations - horizontal, right oblique, or left oblique. Two additional cats were reared as controls. One of these matured viewing right and left oblique stripes on alternate days. The other experienced a normal visual environment. 2. Following the completion of rearing, and after several weeks of normal visual experience, behavioural testing of the stripe-reared animals demonstrated a deficit in visual acuity for orientations which were not present in the early visual environment. No comparable deficit emerged for either of the control cats. 3. Following 1-3 years of further, normal, visual experience, each of the cats was shipped separately to California where single units were recorded from area 17 of the visual cortex and an effort made to guess the early visual history of each animal which was unknown to the experimenters. Cell samples from each experimental cat and the normal control cat allowed the physiologist to guess their early visual experience correctly. The control cat which matured viewing orthogonal sets of oblique stripes on alternate days demonstrated a bias for horizontal contours in his cell sample. In contrast to units recorded from normal cats, about 80% of which are binocular, only about 30% of the cells recorded from the stripe-reared animals could be influenced by both eyes.

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