The optic nerve head component of the human ERG

Vision Res. 1999 Feb;39(3):419-36. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00161-8.


The local responses of the multifocal ERG reveal continuous changes in the second order waveforms from the nasal to the temporal retina. Scrutiny of these changes suggests the presence of an additive component whose latency increases with the distance of the stimulus from the optic nerve head. This observation led to the hypothesis of a contributing source in the vicinity of the optic nerve head whose signal is delayed in proportion to the fiber length from the stimulated retinal patch to the nerve head. The hypothesis was tested with two independent methods. In Method 1, a set of different local response waveforms was approximated by two fixed components whose relative latency was allowed to vary and the fit of this two component model was evaluated. In Method 2, two signals were derived simultaneously using different placements for the reference electrode. The placements were selected to produce a different ratio of the signal contributions from the retina and the nerve head in the two recording channels. The signals were then combined at a ratio that canceled the retinal component. Method 1 yielded an excellent fit of the two component model. Waveforms and latencies of the hypothetical optic nerve head component derived from the two methods agree well with each other. The local latencies also agree with the propagation delays measured in the nerve fiber layer of the monkey retina. In combination, these findings provide strong evidence for a signal source near the optic nerve head.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electroretinography
  • Humans
  • Optic Disk / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology