A novel type of complex ganglion cell in rabbit retina

Benjamin Sivyer, Sowmya Venkataramani, W. Rowland Taylor, David I. Vaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The 15-20 physiological types of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) can be grouped according to whether they fire to increased illumination in the receptive-field center (ON cells), decreased illumination (OFF cells), or both (ON-OFF cells). The diversity of RGCs has been best described in the rabbit retina, which has three types of ON-OFF RGCs with complex receptive-field properties: the ON-OFF direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs), the local edge detectors, and the uniformity detectors. Here we describe a novel type of bistratified ON-OFF RGC that has not been described in either physiological or morphological studies of rabbit RGCs. These cells stratify in the ON and OFF sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer, branching at about 30% and 60% depth, between the ON and OFF arbors of the bistratified DSGCs. Similar to the ON-OFF DSGCs, these cells respond with transient firing to both bright and dark spots flashed in the receptive field but, unlike the DSGCs, they show no directional preference for moving stimuli. We have termed these cells "transient ON-OFF" RGCs. Area-response measurements show that both the ON and the OFF spike responses have an antagonistic receptive-field organization, but with different spatial extents. Voltage-clamp recordings reveal transient excitatory inputs at light ON and light OFF; this excitation is strongly suppressed by surround stimulation, which also elicits direct inhibitory inputs to the cells at light ON and light OFF. Thus the receptive-field organization is mediated both within the presynaptic circuitry and by direct feed-forward inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3128-3138
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • ON-OFF cell
  • Retinal ganglion cell
  • Spike recording
  • Voltage-clamp recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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