Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Alex Meredith

Second Advisor

Ruth Clemo

Third Advisor

Mary Shall


Neuroplasticity has been researched in many different ways, from the growing neonatal brain to neural responses to trauma and injury. According to recent research, neuroplasticity is also prevalent in the ability of the brain to repurpose areas that are not of use, like in the case of a loss of a sense. Specifically, behavioral studies have shown that deaf humans (Bavalier and Neville, 2002) and cats have increased visual ability, and that different areas of the auditory cortex enhance specific kinds of sight. One such behavioral test demonstrated that the dorsal zone (DZ) of the auditory cortex enhances sensitivity to visual motion through cross-modal plasticity (Lomber et. al., 2010). Current research seeks to examine the anatomical structures responsible for these changes through analysis of excitatory neuron dendritic spine density and spine head diameter. This present study focuses on the examination of DZ neuron spine density, distribution, and size in deaf and hearing cats to corroborate the visual changes seen in behavioral studies. Using Golgi-stained tissue and light microscopy, our results showed a decrease in overall spine density but slight increase in spine head diameter in deaf cats compared to hearing cats. These results, along with several other studies, support multiple theories on how cross-modal reorganization of the auditory cortex occurs after deafening


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