In the few weeks prior to the onset of vision, the retina undergoes a dramatic transformation. Neurons migrate into position and target appropriate synaptic partners to assemble the circuits that mediate vision. During this period of development, the retina is not silent but rather assembles and disassembles a series of transient circuits that use distinct mechanisms to generate spontaneous correlated activity called retinal waves. During the first postnatal week, this transient circuit is comprised of reciprocal cholinergic connections between starburst amacrine cells. A few days before the eyes open, these cholinergic connections are eliminated as the glutamatergic circuits involved in processing visual information are formed. Here, we discuss the assembly and disassembly of this transient cholinergic network and the role it plays in various aspects of retinal development.
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2012