Rod vision: pathways and processing in the mammalian retina

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2001 May;20(3):351-84. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(00)00031-8.


Bipolar cells in the mammalian retina are postsynaptic to either rod or cone photoreceptors, thereby segregating their respective signals into parallel vertical streams. In contrast to the cone pathways, only one type of rod bipolar cell exists, apparently limiting the routes available for the propagation of rod signals. However, due to numerous interactions between the rod and cone circuitry, there is now strong evidence for the existence of up to three different pathways for the transmission of scotopic visual information. Here we survey work over the last decade or so that have defined the structure and function of the interneurons subserving the rod pathways in the mammalian retina. We have focused on: (1) the synaptic ultrastructure of the interneurons; (2) their light-evoked physiologies; (3) localization of specific transmitter receptor subtypes; (4) plasticity of gap junctions related to changes in adaptational state; and (5) the functional implications of the existence of multiple rod pathways. Special emphasis has been placed on defining the circuits underlying the different response components of the AII amacrine cell, a central element in the transmission of scotopic signals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*