Vertical interactions across ten parallel, stacked representations in the mammalian retina

Nature. 2001 Mar 29;410(6828):583-7. doi: 10.1038/35069068.


The mammalian visual system analyses the world through a set of separate spatio-temporal channels. The organization of these channels begins in the retina, where the precise laminations of both the axon terminals of bipolar cells and the dendritic arborizations of ganglion cells suggests the presence of a vertical stack of neural strata at the inner plexiform layer (IPL). Conversely, many inhibitory amacrine cell classes are multiply or diffusely stratified, indicating that they might convey information between strata. On the basis of the diverse stratification and physiological properties of ganglion cells, it was suggested that the IPL contains a parallel set of representations of the visual world embodied in the strata and conveyed to higher centres by the classes of ganglion cells whose dendrites ramify at that stratum. Here we show that each stratum receives unique and substantively different excitatory and inhibitory neural inputs that are integrated to form at least ten different, parallel space-time spiking outputs. The response properties of these strata are ordered in the time domain. Inhibition through GABAC receptors extracts spatial edges in neural representations and seems to separate the functional properties of the strata. We describe a new form of neuronal interaction that we call 'vertical inhibition' that acts not laterally, but between strata.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, GABA / physiology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*


  • Receptors, GABA