Loss of visual acuity caused by abnormal visual experience during development (amblyopia) is an untreatable pathology in adults. We report that environmental enrichment in adult amblyopic rats restored normal visual acuity and ocular dominance. These effects were due to reduced GABAergic inhibition in the visual cortex, accompanied by increased expression of BDNF and reduced density of extracellular-matrix perineuronal nets, and were prevented by enhancement of inhibition through benzodiazepine cortical infusion.
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We thank F. Clementi for kindly providing us the diazepam and A. Viegi for his technical assistance with high-performance liquid chromatography. This work was supported by grants from Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca (MIUR), Programmi di Ricerca di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale (PRIN) and Fondo Integrativo Speciale Ricerca (FISR).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Visual acuity recovery in RS-EE adult rats. (PDF 22 kb)
Levels of extracellular glutamate are not different between RS-SC and RS-EE adult rats. (PDF 61 kb)
Environmental enrichment–induced changes of plasticity factors in the visual cortex. (PDF 391 kb)
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Sale, A., Maya Vetencourt, J., Medini, P. et al. Environmental enrichment in adulthood promotes amblyopia recovery through a reduction of intracortical inhibition. Nat Neurosci 10, 679–681 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1899
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