This review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of how neural divergence and convergence give rise to complex encoding properties of retinal ganglion cells. We describe the apparent mismatch between the number of cone bipolar cell types, and the diversity of excitatory input to retinal ganglion cells, and outline two possible solutions. One proposal is for diversity in the excitatory pathways to be generated within axon terminals of cone bipolar cells, and the second invokes narrow-field glycinergic amacrine cells that can apparently act like bipolar cells by providing excitatory drive to ganglion cells. Finally we highlight two advances in technique that promise to provide future insights; automation of electron microscope data collection and analysis, and the use of the ideal observer to quantitatively compare neural performance at all levels.
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