Visual stimulation is required for refinement of ON and OFF pathways in postnatal retina

Neuron. 2003 Jul 3;39(1):85-96. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00389-1.


ON and OFF pathways separately relay increment and decrement luminance signals from retinal bipolar cells to cortex. ON-OFF retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are activated via synaptic inputs onto bistratified dendrites localized in the ON and OFF regions of the inner plexiform layer. Postnatal maturational processes convert bistratifying ON-OFF RGCs to monostratifying ON and OFF RGCs. Although visual deprivation influences refinement of higher visual centers, no previous studies suggest that light regulates either the development of the visual-evoked signaling in retinal ON and OFF pathways, nor pruning of bistratified RGC dendrites. We find that dark rearing blocks both the maturational loss of ON-OFF responsive RGCs and the pruning of dendrites. Thus, in retina, there is a previously unrecognized, pathway-specific maturation that is profoundly affected by visual deprivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Darkness
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • yellow fluorescent protein, Bacteria