Binocularity in infancy.
A variety of behavioural and electrophysiological studies agree that the onset of functional binocular interaction in human visual cortex normally occurs between 10 and 16 weeks of age. Measures of sensitivity to binocular correlation and to disparity agree closely, and behavioural and visual evoked potential measures on the same infant show onset of binocularity within about a 2 week range. Beyond the initial onset, the maximum disparity to which infants are sensitive increases steadily and stereoacuity is found to increase very rapidly. The initial development of binocularity does not appear to be a consequence of improving alignment of the eyes and occurs even in the presence of strabismus. However, the connections subserving binocularity are plastic in early childhood; they can be disrupted by unilateral strabismus, although in some strabismic children who use both eyes for fixation, they can adapt to serve stereo function at the angle of deviation and re-adapt, albeit temporarily, to the surgical alignment of the eyes. These findings allow us to pose some as yet unanswered questions about the development of binocularity, including: How is the infant's visual system organised before the establishment of binocularity? How does the pre-binocular infant maintain vergence? And what neural changes underlie the increase in performance for small and large disparities following the initial onset of binocular function?