Measuring the optokinetic response (OKR) to rotating sinusoidal gratings is becoming an increasingly common method to determine visual function thresholds in mice. This is possible also through direct electrophysiological recording of the response of the neurons in the visual cortex to the presentation of reversing patterned stimuli, i.e. the pattern visually evoked potential (pVEP). Herein, we optimized the conditions for recording pVEPs in wild-type mice: we investigated the optimal depth (1, 2, or 3 mm) of the inserted electrode and the optimal stimulus pattern (vertical, horizontal, or oblique black and white stripes, or a checkerboard pattern). Visual acuity was higher when measured with the optimal pVEP recording conditions, i.e., with the electrode at 2 mm and a vertical-stripe stimulus (0.530 ± 0.021 cycle/degree), than with OKR (0.455 ± 0.006 cycle/degree). Moreover, in murine eyes with optic nerve crush-induced low vision, OKR could not measure any visual acuity, while pVEPs allowed the reliable quantification of residual vision (0.064 ± 0.004 cycle/degree). Our results show that pVEPs allow more sensitive measurement of visual function than the OKR-based method. This technique should be particularly useful in mouse models of ocular disease and low vision.
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