Light in the womb controls eye development | Mo Costandi

New findings could improve understanding of diseases that cause blindness in premature babiesProper brain development is highly dependent upon sensory experiences in early life. From the minute you are born, the light entering your eyes began to tune the responses of cells in your visual cortex and shaped the overall growth of your visual pathways. And your parents' cuddles and caresses drove the development of your somatosensory system, the pathway that detects touch and pain. Now a team of American researchers provides evidence that sensory experiences before birth play an important role in development of the eye. In a series of experiments performed on mice, they found that light in the womb regulates the growth of blood vessels and the number of neurons in the retina. The findings, published last week in the journal Nature, could improve our understanding of eye diseases that cause can blindness in premature babies.Research into how sensory experiences affect brain development dates back more than 50 years. In a series of classic experiments, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel raised newborn kittens with one eye sewn shut, and found that this had dramatic effects on how the visual cortex developed. Normally, this region of the brain contains alternating columns of cells that receive information from the left and right eyes. Hubel and Wiesel found that depriving the animals of sensory inputs to one eye altered this pattern of organization – the columns that would otherwi...
Source: Guardian Unlimited Science - Category: Science Tags: Blogposts Health Neuroscience Source Type: news

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