Several investigators have reported that treating the visual cortex with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) preserves the ability of a monocularly deprived eye to drive cells in the visual cortex. If 6-OHDA provides useful protection from the effects of monocular deprivation, it should also prevent the behavioral blindness that normally accompanies monocular deprivation. To test this prediction we compared the visual behavior of monocularly deprived kittens pretreated with 6-OHDA with that of kittens similarly deprived, but not drug-treated. Kittens were trained on a visual discrimination task before drug treatment or suture. Starting at about 5 weeks of age the kittens were given 6-OHDA via ventricular cannula, given vehicle solution, or given no treatment at all. At about 6 weeks of age all kittens were monocularly deprived for one week. When the deprived eye was opened at 7 weeks of age, most kittens not receiving 6-OHDA were blind when tested with the deprived eye. In contrast, none of the kittens receiving 6-OHDA intraventricularly were blind when tested with the deprived eye. 6-OHDA had no effect on performance with the non-deprived eye. We conclude that 6-OHDA protects vision through the monocularly deprived eye without impairing vision through the non-deprived eye.
Visual Behavior of Monocularly Deprived Kittens Treated with 6-Hydroxydopamine