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This article is part of the Research Topic GABA signaling in health and disease


Front. Cell. Neurosci., 24 November 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2011.00025

New perspectives in amblyopia therapy on adults: a critical role for the excitatory/inhibitory balance

  • 1 Institute of Neuroscience, National Research Council, Pisa, Italy
  • 2 Laboratory of Neurobiology, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy

Amblyopia is the most common form of impairment of visual function affecting one eye, with a prevalence of about 1–5% of the total world population. This pathology is caused by early abnormal visual experience with a functional imbalance between the two eyes owing to anisometropia, strabismus, or congenital cataract, resulting in a dramatic loss of visual acuity in an apparently healthy eye and various other perceptual abnormalities, including deficits in contrast sensitivity and in stereopsis. It is currently accepted that, due to a lack of sufficient plasticity within the brain, amblyopia is untreatable in adulthood. However, recent results obtained both in clinical trials and in animal models have challenged this traditional view, unmasking a previously unsuspected potential for promoting recovery after the end of the critical period for visual cortex plasticity. These studies point toward the intracortical inhibitory transmission as a crucial brake for therapeutic rehabilitation and recovery from amblyopia in the adult brain.

Keywords: amblyopia, neural plasticity, environmental enrichment, fluoxetine, perceptual learning, GABAergic inhibition

Citation: Baroncelli L, Maffei L and Sale A (2011) New perspectives in amblyopia therapy on adults: a critical role for the excitatory/inhibitory balance. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 5:25. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2011.00025

Received: 26 September 2011; Paper pending published: 11 October 2011;
Accepted: 07 November 2011; Published online: 24 November 2011.

Edited by:

Yehezkel Ben-Ari, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, France

Reviewed by:

Enrico Cherubini, International School for Advanced Studies, Italy
Corette Wierenga, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany

Copyright: © 2011 Baroncelli, Maffei and Sale. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Alessandro Sale, Institute of Neuroscience, National Research Council, Via Moruzzi 1, I-56124 Pisa, Italy. e-mail: sale@in.cnr.it