Early visual experience is essential for the maturation of visual functions in which the primary visual cortex plays crucial roles. The extraction of visual features based on response selectivity of individual neurons, a fundamental process in the cortex, is basically established by eye opening inrodents, suggestingthat visual experience is requiredfor the development of neural functions other thanfeature extraction. Here, we showthat synchronized firing, which is important for visual information processing, occurs selectively in adjacent neurons sharing similar orientation or spatial frequency preferences in layers 2–4 (upper layer) of rat visual cortex. This feature-selective spike synchrony was rudimentary when the eyes opened and became prominent during the first few weeks after eye opening only in the presence of pattern vision. In contrast, synchronization in layers 5–6 (lower layer) was almost independent of orientation similarity and more weakly dependent on spatial frequency similarity compared with upper layer synchrony. Lower layer synchronization was strengthened during development after eye opening independently of visual experience as a whole. However, the feature selectivity of synchronization was regulated by visual inputs, whereas the inputs without contours were sufficient for this regulation. Therefore, we speculate that feature-selective synchronizationinthe upper layer mayconveydetailed information on visual objects to the higher-order cortex, whereas weakly feature-selective synchronization in the lower layer may covey rather rough visual information to the subcortical areas or higher-order cortex. Amajor role of visual experience may be to establish the specific neural circuits underlying highly feature-selective synchronization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas