Dynamics of spontaneous activity in the fetal macaque retina during development of retinogeniculate pathways

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Neuroscience








Development; Lateral geniculate; Lgn; Primate; Retina; Retinal waves; Spontaneous activity


Correlated spontaneous activity in the form of retinal "waves" has been observed in a wide variety of developing animals, but whether retinal waves occur in the primate has not been determined previously. To address this issue, we recorded from isolated retinas using multielectrode arrays at six fetal ages: embryonic day 51 (E51), E55, E60, E67, E71, and E76. These recordings revealed that the fetal monkey retina is essentially silent at E51 and E55, with only few cells firing on rare occasions and without any obvious spatial or temporal order. Because previous work has shown that the magnocellular and parvocellular subdivisions of the dorsal lateral geniculate are selectively innervated during this early period, our results suggest that this process is unlikely to be regulated by retinal activity. Highly structured retinal waves were first observed at E60, >1 week before the segregation of eye-specific retinal dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus projections commences. The incidence of such waves decreased rapidly and progressively during the developmental period (E67-E76) when segregated eye-specific projections become established. Our findings indicate that retinal waves first occur in the fetal monkey at a remarkably early stage of development, >100 d before birth, and that this activity undergoes rapid changes in salient properties when eye-specific retinogeniculate projections are being formed. Copyright © 2006 Society for Neuroscience.

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