Pathological and experimentally induced blindness induces auditory activity in the cat primary visual cortex

R. Yaka, U. Yinon, M. Rosner, Z. Wollberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Early blindness in humans and experimental visual deprivation in animal models are known to induce compensatory somatosensory and/or auditory activation of the visual cortex. An abnormal hydrocephalic cat with extreme malformation of the visual system, born in our breeding colony, rendered a good model system for investigating possible cross-modal compensation in such a pathological case. For comparison, we used normal and neonatally enucleated cats. When introduced to a novel environment, the abnormal cat behaved as if it was completely blind, yet it responded normally to auditory stimuli. As anticipated, single cells in the visual cortex of normal cats responded to visual, but not to auditory stimuli. In the visual cortex of enucleated cats, flashes of light did not elicit field-evoked potentials or single-unit responses. However, several cells did respond to various auditory stimuli. In the remnant visual cortex of the abnormal cat, auditory stimuli evoked field potentials and single-cell responses. Unexpectedly, however, unlike the enucleated cats, in the abnormal cat, flashes of light also elicited field-evoked potentials. Judging by its behavior, it is very likely that this deformed cat had completely lost its ability to perceive images, but had probably retained some sensitivity to light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-148
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


FundersFunder number
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation


    • Auditory activation
    • Cross-modal neuroplasticity
    • Enucleation
    • Hydrocephalus
    • Visual deprivation
    • Walker-Warburg syndrome


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