Center surround receptive field structure of cone bipolar cells in primate retina

Vision Res. 2000;40(14):1801-11. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(00)00039-0.


In non-mammalian vertebrates, retinal bipolar cells show center-surround receptive field organization. In mammals, recordings from bipolar cells are rare and have not revealed a clear surround. Here we report center-surround receptive fields of identified cone bipolar cells in the macaque monkey retina. In the peripheral retina, cone bipolar cell nuclei were labeled in vitro with diamidino-phenylindole (DAPI), targeted for recording under microscopic control, and anatomically identified by intracellular staining. Identified cells included 'diffuse' bipolar cells, which contact multiple cones, and 'midget' bipolar cells, which contact a single cone. Responses to flickering spots and annuli revealed a clear surround: both hyperpolarizing (OFF) and depolarizing (ON) cells responded with reversed polarity to annular stimuli. Center and surround dimensions were calculated for 12 bipolar cells from the spatial frequency response to drifting, sinusoidal luminance modulated gratings. The frequency response was bandpass and well fit by a difference of Gaussians receptive field model. Center diameters were all two to three times larger than known dendritic tree diameters for both diffuse and midget bipolar cells in the retinal periphery. In one instance intracellular staining revealed tracer spread between a recorded cell and its nearest neighbors, suggesting that homotypic electrical coupling may contribute to receptive field center size. Surrounds were around ten times larger in diameter than centers and in most cases the ratio of center to surround strength was approximately 1. We suggest that the center-surround receptive fields of the major primate ganglion cell types are established at the bipolar cell, probably by the circuitry of the outer retina.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Macaca
  • Microelectrodes
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / anatomy & histology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / anatomy & histology*
  • Staining and Labeling