Functional connectivity in the retina at the resolution of photoreceptors

Greg D. Field, Jeffrey L. Gauthier, Alexander Sher, Martin Greschner, Timothy A. Machado, Lauren H. Jepson, Jonathon Shlens, Deborah E. Gunning, Keith Mathieson, Wladyslaw Dabrowski, Liam Paninski, Alan M. Litke & E. J. Chichilnisky

Nature 467, 673-677

To understand a neural circuit requires knowledge of its connectivity. Here we report measurements of functional connectivity between the input and ouput layers of the macaque retina at single-cell resolution and the implications of these for colour vision. Multi-electrode technology was used to record simultaneously from complete populations of the retinal ganglion cell types (midget, parasol and small bistratified) that transmit high-resolution visual signals to the brain. Fine-grained visual stimulation was used to identify the location, type and strength of the functional input of each cone photoreceptor to each ganglion cell. The populations of ON and OFF midget and parasol cells each sampled the complete population of long- and middle-wavelength-sensitive cones. However, only OFF midget cells frequently received strong input from short-wavelength-sensitive cones. ON and OFF midget cells showed a small non-random tendency to selectively sample from either long- or middle-wavelength-sensitive cones to a degree not explained by clumping in the cone mosaic. These measurements reveal computations in a neural circuit at the elementary resolution of individual neurons.

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