A new model of strabismic amblyopia: Loss of spatial acuity due to increased temporal dispersion of geniculate X-cell afferents on to cortical neurons Academic Article uri icon


  • Although the neural locus of strabismic amblyopia has been shown to lie at the first site of binocular integration, first in cat and then in primate, an adequate mechanism is still lacking. Here we hypothesise that increased temporal dispersion of LGN X-cell afferents driven by the deviating eye onto single cortical neurons may provide a neural mechanism for strabismic amblyopia. This idea was investigated via single cell extracellular recordings of 93 X and 50 Y type LGN neurons from strabismic and normal cats. Both X and Y neurons driven by the non-deviating eye showed shorter latencies than those driven by either the strabismic or normal eyes. Also the mean latency difference between X and Y neurons was much greater for the strabismic cells compared with the other two groups. The incidence of lagged X-cells driven by the deviating eye of the strabismic cats was higher than that of LGN X-cells from normal animals. Remarkably, none of the cells recorded from the laminae driven by the non-deviating eye were of the lagged class. A simple computational model was constructed in which a mixture of lagged and non-lagged afferents converge on to single cortical neurons. Model cut-off spatial frequencies to a moving grating stimulus were sensitive to the temporal dispersion of the geniculate afferents. Thus strabismic amblyopia could be viewed as a lack of developmental tuning of geniculate lags for neurons driven by the amblyopic eye. Monocular control of fixation by the non-deviating eye is associated with reduced incidence of lagged neurons, suggesting that in normal vision, lagged neurons might play a role in maintaining binocular connections for cortical neurons.

publication date

  • 2015