Auditory activation of cortical visual areas in cats after early visual deprivation

Rami Yaka, Uri Yinon, Zvi Wollberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Auditory activation of the primary visual cortex (area 17) and two extrastriate visual cortical areas - the anterolateral lateral suprasylvian area (ALLS) and anteromedial lateral suprasylvian area (AMLS), was investigated in visually impaired cats. Impairment was accomplished shortly after birth by bilateral eyelid suturing (binocularly deprived cats, BD) or bilateral enucleation (binocularly enucleated cats, BE). In BE cats, the optic nerve and chiasm were entirely degenerated. No cortical atrophy or cytoarchitectural malformation was noticed in either BD or BE cats. In both normal and impaired cats we found auditory-responsive cells in the ALLS and AMLS, areas that are considered strictly visual. The most remarkable finding was an increase in the relative number of these auditory cells in the BD and BE cats, which was more prominent in the latter. Some auditory-responsive cells were also found in area 17 of BE cats. On the basis of formal calculation, it is tempting to suggest that the increase in relative number of auditory cells in these areas reflects the transformation of all the visual cells in the ALLS of BD and BE cats into auditory cells. In BE cats, all bimodal cells and an appreciable percentage of non-responsive cells also had transformed to auditory cells. In the AMLS of BD cats, it is primarily the bimodal cells that become auditory cells, whereas in BE cats all the visual and bimodal cells as well as non-responsive cells undergo this transformation. This assumption, however, is one possible interpretation of our results but not the only one. Other modes of neuronal plasticity that might yield similar results in the visually deprived cats can not be ruled out.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1301-1312
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortex
  • Cross-modal neuroplasticity
  • Enucleation
  • Suprasylvian sulcus
  • Visual areas


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