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Metabolic activity in optic tectum during regeneration of retina in adult goldfish

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2002

Department of Psychology and Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville
Department of Psychology and Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville


Retinal and visual function returns following retinal destruction by ouabain in adult goldfish (Carassius auratus). Although the precise cellular mechanisms are unclear, the ability to regenerate CNS neurons and connections that subsequently sustain visual behavior is remarkable, especially for an adult vertebrate. In this paper, we ask whether visual stimulation via new retinal cells can activate existing cells in the optic tectum, which normally receives the largest retinal projection in this species. The right eyes of adult goldfish were injected with ouabain. After 1–18 weeks the conscious, freely moving fish were exposed to spatially and temporally varying visual stimuli and the resulting tectal metabolic activity was determined with the autoradiographic deoxyglucose method. In normal controls without lesions, visual stimulation produced equally strong metabolic activity in both tectal hemispheres, peaking in the layer where most retinotectal projections terminate (N = 6). One week after ouabain injection, metabolic activity in the contralateral, deprived tectum was dramatically reduced (N = 5), closely resembling the effect of unilateral ocular enucleation (N = 5). However, 9–18 weeks after ouabain injection, metabolic activity in the deprived tectum recovered to a level that was statistically indistinguishable from normal controls (N = 6). These findings suggest that, after a comprehensive cytotoxic lesion of the retina, regenerated ganglion cells not only establish new connections with the preexisting optic tectum, but also effectively transmit visual information they receive from newly generated photoreceptors to the “old” tectum.

Research Article
2001 Cambridge University Press

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