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Lucas Virathone, Bao N. Nguyen, Fiona Dobson, Olivia L. Carter, Allison M. McKendrick; Exercise alone impacts short-term adult visual neuroplasticity in a monocular deprivation paradigm. Journal of Vision 2021;21(11):12. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.11.12.
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Adult homeostatic visual plasticity can be induced by short-term patching, heralded by a shift in ocular dominance in favor of the deprived eye after monocular occlusion. The potential to boost visual neuroplasticity with environmental enrichment such as exercise has also been explored; however, the results are inconsistent, with some studies finding no additive effect of exercise. Studies to date have only considered the effect of patching alone or in combination with exercise. Whether exercise alone affects typical outcome measures of experimental estimates of short-term visual neuroplasticity is unknown. We therefore measured binocular rivalry in 20 healthy young adults (20–34 years old) at baseline and after three 2-hour interventions: patching (of the dominant eye) only, patching with exercise, and exercise only. Consistent with previous work, the patching interventions produced a shift in ocular dominance toward the deprived (dominant) eye. Mild- to moderate-intensity exercise in the absence of patching had several effects on binocular rivalry metrics, including a reduction in the dominant eye percept. The proportion of mixed percept and the time to first switch (onset rivalry) did not change from baseline across all interventions. Thus, we demonstrate that exercise alone can impact binocular rivalry outcomes measures. We did not observe a synergistic effect between patching and exercise in our data.
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