Neurogenesis in plasticity

This week we learned about the genesis of neurons. Especially interesting for us was the fact that the ocular dominance of macaque monkeys could be changed experimentally. This led to a change of the organization of the cortex. We thereby wonder how ocular dominance is affected by different eye disorders such as nearsightedness. If the sight of one eye is significantly worse than the other and the vision is not corrected to normal, for example with glasses, does this alter ocular dominance? If this alteration already happened can this be reverted by wearing an eye patch? Was there a difference between the ocular dominance of pirates vs the general population?

Another topic of interest this week for us was adult neurogenesis. In the lecture we found out that mice that are provided healthy living conditions with a running wheel, playmates and problems they can work on have enhanced neurogenesis. That however raises a question: do these factors themselves create the change, or does the better environment in general have some influence as well? If it does, how much?

In this week’s lecture we also noted the prevalent usage of the term “pruning”, which was also found in this week’s quiz. The term was not found at all in the book, causing some confusion when doing the quiz. The difference in the perceived importance of the term feels weird to us. In spite of the lack of the usage of the term we were able to answer the question in the quiz due to our knowledge of decision trees from computer science lectures. It was interesting to notice that the concept of pruning exists in various different fields and in all cases refers to the reduction by cutting connections.