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Role of visual experience in the development of optokinetic response in kittens

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  1. 1.

    Kittens reared in the dark from birth were exposed one hour a day between the 4th and the 10th week of age, to a visual environment which consisted exclusively of vertical edges moving horizontally at a constant speed, and always in the same direction. Total exposure time varied between 10 and 60 hours.

  2. 2.

    At the 12th week of age, optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) in response to displacements of the visual field, was tested. Displacements in the direction that the kittens had experienced during the exposure period elicited immediately an OKN, the frequency of which was related to the speed of the moving pattern. Displacements in the opposite direction elicited a poorer response, only for slowly moving edges. When the speed of the displacement was increased, OKN failed to adapt and finally disappeared.

  3. 3.

    These results suggest the existence, in this type of visuomotor behavior, of a component built up by early visual experience (adaptative component) overlying another component pre-existing visual experience (pre-programmed component).

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A preliminary note has already been published: Vital-Durand et al. J. Physiol. (Paris) 65, 519 (1972).

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Vital-Durand, F., Jeannerod, M. Role of visual experience in the development of optokinetic response in kittens. Exp Brain Res 20, 297–302 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00238319

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Key words

  • Cat
  • Selective rearing
  • Maturation
  • OKN
  • Perception of motion