Barbara Gordon-Lickey and I are interested in developmental plasticity, critical periods, and the neural basis of learning. As a model system of cortical plasticity, we study the monocular deprivation effect, in which deprivation of vision in one eye during a critical period causes physiological, anatomical and behavioral adaptations to the unusual circumstance of seeing through one eye only. The monocular deprivation effect occurs in humans and all other mammals tested so far. In a recent study we used the technique of swept contrast visual evoked potentials to determine the critical period for the monocular deprivation effect in rats and mice. Surprisingly we found a prominent effect of monocular deprivation in adults as well as juveniles. The plasticity in the adult, however, is physiologically distinct from plasticity in the juvenile.
The use of mice for the study of plasticity is important because it allows comparison of behavioral, physiological and biochemical development within the same species using modern genomic techniques. For instance, we have asked whether the developmental time course of NMDA receptor proteins is linked to the onset and offset of the critical period in visual cortical neurons. We are now using transgenic mice to ask whether the transcription regulator CREB is important in determining the timing of the critical period in mice. These studies, and similar ones from many other laboratories, will eventually explain why humans and other animals lose their capacity for behavioral adaptation as they grow older.
Dr. Gordon-Lickey is no longer accepting new students.
Guire, E.S., Lickey, M.E., & Gordon, B. (1999). Critical period for the monocular deprivation effect in rats: Assessment with sweep visually evoked potentials. J. Neurophysiol., 81, 121-128.
Cao, Z., Liu, L., Lickey, M.E., Kirk, E., & Gordon, B. (2000). Postnatal development of NR1, Nr2A, and NR2B immunoreactivity in the visual cortex of the rat. Brain Research, 859, 26-37.
Lickey, M.E., Pham, TA and Gordon,B. (2004) Swept contrast visual evoked potentials and their plasticity following monocular deprivation in mice. Vision Research, 44: 3381-3387.
Pham, TA; Graham, SJ; Seigo, S; Barco, A; Kandel ER; Gordon, B; and Lickey, ME. (2004) A semi-persistent adult ocular dominance plasticity in visual cortex is stabilized by activated CREB. Learning and Memory, 11: 738-747.