Light- and dopamine-regulated receptive field plasticity in primate horizontal cells

J Comp Neurol. 2011 Aug 1;519(11):2125-34. doi: 10.1002/cne.22604.


Center-surround antagonistic receptive fields (CSARFs) are building blocks for spatial vision and contrast perception. Retinal horizontal cells (HCs) are the first lateral elements along the visual pathway, and are thought to contribute to receptive field surrounds of higher order neurons. Primate HC receptive fields have not been found to change with light, and dopaminergic modulation has not been investigated. Recording intracellularly from HCs in dark-adapted macaque retina, we found that H1-HCs had large receptive fields (λ = 1,158 ± 137 μm) that were reduced by background light (-45%), gap junction closure (-53%), and D1 dopamine receptor activation (-48%). Tracer coupling was modulated in a correlative manner, suggesting that coupling resistance plays a dominant role in receptive field formation under low light conditions. The D1 antagonist SCH23390 increased the size of receptive fields (+13%), suggesting tonic dopamine release in the dark. Because light elevates dopamine release in primate retina, our results support a dopaminergic role in post-receptoral light adaptation by decreasing HC receptive field diameters, which influences the center-surround receptive field organization of higher-order neurons and thereby spatial contrast sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology
  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Dark Adaptation / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • SCH 23390
  • Dopamine