Early-light embryonic stimulation suggests a second route, via gene activation, to cerebral lateralization in vertebrates.

Scientific reports

PubMedID: 24048072

Chiandetti C, Galliussi J, Andrew RJ, Vallortigara G. Early-light embryonic stimulation suggests a second route, via gene activation, to cerebral lateralization in vertebrates. Sci Rep. 2013;32701.
Genetic factors determine the asymmetrical position of vertebrate embryos allowing asymmetric environmental stimulation to shape cerebral lateralization. In birds, late-light stimulation, just before hatching, on the right optic nerve triggers anatomical and functional cerebral asymmetries. However, some brain asymmetries develop in absence of embryonic light stimulation. Furthermore, early-light action affects lateralization in the transparent zebrafish embryos before their visual system is functional. Here we investigated whether another pathway intervenes in establishing brain specialization. We exposed chicks' embryos to light before their visual system was formed. We observed that such early stimulation modulates cerebral lateralization in a comparable vein of late-light stimulation on active retinal cells. Our results show that, in a higher vertebrate brain, a second route, likely affecting the genetic expression of photosensitive regions, acts before the development of a functional visual system. More than one sensitive period seems thus available to light stimulation to trigger brain lateralization.