Exposure of domestic chicks’ eggs to light during embryo incubation stimulates asymmetrically the two eye-systems, reaching selectively the right eye (left hemisphere) and inducing asymmetries at the behavioral and neural level. Surprisingly, though, some types of lateralization have been observed also in dark incubated chicks, especially at the behavioral level. Here we investigate the mechanisms subtending the development of lateralization, in the presence and in the absence of embryonic light exposure. We measured the baseline level of expression for the immediate early gene product c-Fos, used as an indicator of the spontaneous level of neural activity and plasticity in four areas of the two hemispheres (preoptic area, septum, hippocampus and intermediate medial mesopallium). Additional DAPI staining measured overall cell density (regardless of c-Fos expression), ruling out any confound due to underlying asymmetries in cell density between the hemispheres. In different brain areas, c-Fos expression was lateralized either in light- (septum) or in dark-incubated chicks (preoptic area). Light exposure increased c-Fos expression in the left hemisphere, suggesting that c-Fos expression could participate to the known effects of light stimulation on brain asymmetries. Interestingly, this effect was visible few days after the end of the light exposure, revealing a delayed effect of light exposure on c-Fos baseline expression in brain areas outside the visual pathways. In the preoptic area of dark incubated chicks, we found a rightward bias for c-Fos expression, revealing that lateralization of the baseline level of activity and plasticity is present in the developing brain also in the absence of light exposure.

Spontaneous and light-induced lateralization of immediate early genes expression in domestic chicks / Lorenzi, Elena; Mayer, Uwe; Rosa-Salva, Orsola; Morandi Raikova, Anastasia; Vallortigara, Giorgio. - In: BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH. - ISSN 0166-4328. - 368:111905(2019), pp. 1-9. [10.1016/j.bbr.2019.111905]

Spontaneous and light-induced lateralization of immediate early genes expression in domestic chicks

Lorenzi, Elena;Mayer, Uwe;Rosa-Salva, Orsola;Morandi Raikova, Anastasia;Vallortigara, Giorgio
2019-01-01

Abstract

Exposure of domestic chicks’ eggs to light during embryo incubation stimulates asymmetrically the two eye-systems, reaching selectively the right eye (left hemisphere) and inducing asymmetries at the behavioral and neural level. Surprisingly, though, some types of lateralization have been observed also in dark incubated chicks, especially at the behavioral level. Here we investigate the mechanisms subtending the development of lateralization, in the presence and in the absence of embryonic light exposure. We measured the baseline level of expression for the immediate early gene product c-Fos, used as an indicator of the spontaneous level of neural activity and plasticity in four areas of the two hemispheres (preoptic area, septum, hippocampus and intermediate medial mesopallium). Additional DAPI staining measured overall cell density (regardless of c-Fos expression), ruling out any confound due to underlying asymmetries in cell density between the hemispheres. In different brain areas, c-Fos expression was lateralized either in light- (septum) or in dark-incubated chicks (preoptic area). Light exposure increased c-Fos expression in the left hemisphere, suggesting that c-Fos expression could participate to the known effects of light stimulation on brain asymmetries. Interestingly, this effect was visible few days after the end of the light exposure, revealing a delayed effect of light exposure on c-Fos baseline expression in brain areas outside the visual pathways. In the preoptic area of dark incubated chicks, we found a rightward bias for c-Fos expression, revealing that lateralization of the baseline level of activity and plasticity is present in the developing brain also in the absence of light exposure.
111905
Lorenzi, Elena; Mayer, Uwe; Rosa-Salva, Orsola; Morandi Raikova, Anastasia; Vallortigara, Giorgio
Spontaneous and light-induced lateralization of immediate early genes expression in domestic chicks / Lorenzi, Elena; Mayer, Uwe; Rosa-Salva, Orsola; Morandi Raikova, Anastasia; Vallortigara, Giorgio. - In: BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH. - ISSN 0166-4328. - 368:111905(2019), pp. 1-9. [10.1016/j.bbr.2019.111905]
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