"Many of our brain cells that are used for vision are programmed to respond
to stimuli that has a specific orientation, such as horizontal stripes.
These "orientation-sensitive" cells represent one stop on the way to
processing the visual world. Are some cells already programmed to process
only horizontal-- and not vertical -- stripes before we ever open our eyes
for the first time, or do the things we see early in life program the cells
instead? This is a classic 'nature-versus-nurture' question.
Frank Sengpiel and colleagues from the Max-Planck-Institut für
Neurobiologie, München-Martinsried, Germany, have tackled this question.
Their results, reported in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience, show
that the development of these orientation-specific cells involves a little
of both nature and nurture. There appear to be cells for all orientations,
regardless of visual experience. But some shifting of cells can occur if one
orientation is seen early in life more frequently than the others."