Theta ganglion cell type of cat retina

J Comp Neurol. 2000 Jan 31;417(1):32-48. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(20000131)417:1<32::aid-cne3>;2-s.


We define a new bistratified ganglion cell type of cat retina using intracellular staining in vitro. The theta cell has a small soma, slender axon, and delicate, highly branched dendritic arbor. Dendritic fields are intermediate in size among cat ganglion cells, with diameters typically two to three times those of beta cells. Fields increase in size with distance from the area centralis, ranging in diameter from 70 to 150 microns centrally to a maximum of 700 microns in the periphery. Theta cells have markedly smaller dendritic fields within the nasal visual streak than above or below it and smaller fields nasally than temporally. Dendritic arbors are narrowly bistratified. The outer arbor lies in the lower part of sublamina a (OFF sublayer) of the inner plexiform layer where it costratifies with the dendrites of OFF alpha cells. The inner arbor occupies the upper part of sublamina b (ON sublayer), where it costratifies with ON alpha dendrites. The outer and inner arbors are composed of many relatively short segments and are densely interconnected by branches that traverse the a/b sublaminar border. Experiments combining retrograde labeling with intracellular staining indicate that theta cells project to the superior colliculus and to two components of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (the C laminae and medial interlaminar nucleus). Theta cells project contralaterally from the nasal retina and ipsilaterally from the temporal retina. They apparently correspond to a sluggish transient or phasic W-cell with an ON-OFF receptive field center.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cats / anatomy & histology*
  • Cats / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / classification
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology