Visual cortical neurons are tuned to similar orientations through the two eyes. The binocularly-matched orientation preference is established during a critical period in early life, but the underlying circuit mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we optogenetically isolated the thalamocortical and intracortical excitatory inputs to individual layer 4 neurons and studied their binocular matching. In adult mice, the thalamic and cortical inputs representing the same eyes are similarly tuned and both are matched binocularly. In mice before the critical period, the thalamic input is already slightly matched, but the weak matching is not manifested due to random connections in the cortex, especially those serving the ipsilateral eye. Binocular matching is thus mediated by orientation-specific changes in intracortical connections and further improvement of thalamic matching. Together, our results suggest that the feed-forward thalamic input may play a key role in initiating and guiding the functional refinement of cortical circuits in critical period development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)