David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel’s Research on Optical Development in Kittens
Lienhard, Dina A.
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During 1964, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel studied the short and long term effects of depriving kittens of vision in one eye. In their experiments, Wiesel and Hubel used kittens as models for human children. Hubel and Wiesel researched whether the impairment of vision in one eye could be repaired or not and whether such impairments would impact vision later on in life. The researchers sewed one eye of a kitten shut for varying periods of time. They found that when vision impairments occurred to the kittens right after birth, their vision was significantly affected later on in life, as the cells that were responsible for processing visual information redistributed to favor the unimpaired eye. Hubel and Wiesel worked together for over twenty years and received the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their research on the critical period for mammalian visual system development. Hubel and Wiesel’s experiments with kittens showed that there is a critical period during which the visual system develops in mammals, and it also showed that any impairment of that system during that time will affect the lifelong vision of a mammal.