Pathway-specific maturation, visual deprivation, and development of retinal pathway

Neuroscientist. 2004 Aug;10(4):337-46. doi: 10.1177/1073858404265254.


One of the fundamental features of the visual system is the segregation of neural circuits that process increments and decrements of luminance into ON and OFF pathways. In mature retina, the dendrites of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the inner plexiform layer (IPL) of retina are separated into ON or OFF sublamina-specific stratification. At an early developmental stage, however, the dendrites of most RGCs are ramified throughout the IPL. The maturation of RGC ON/OFF dendritic stratification requires neural activities mediated by afferent inputs from bipolar and amacrine cells. The synchronized spontaneous burst activities in early postnatal developing retina regulate RGC dendritic filopodial movements and the maintenance or elimination of dendritic processes. After eye opening, visual experience further remodels and consolidates the retinal neural circuit into mature forms. Several neurotransmitter systems, including glutamatergic, acetylcholinergic, GABAergic, and glycinergic systems, might act together to modulate the RGC dendritic refinement. In addition, both the bipolar cells and cholinergic amacrine cells may provide laminar cues for the maturation of RGC dendritic stratification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents