Neuronal cell types and connectivity: lessons from the retina

Neuron. 2014 Sep 17;83(6):1262-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.054.


We describe recent progress toward defining neuronal cell types in the mouse retina and attempt to extract lessons that may be generally useful in the mammalian brain. Achieving a comprehensive catalog of retinal cell types now appears within reach, because researchers have achieved consensus concerning two fundamental challenges. The first is accuracy-defining pure cell types rather than settling for neuronal classes that are mixtures of types. The second is completeness-developing methods guaranteed to eventually identify all cell types, as well as criteria for determining when all types have been found. Case studies illustrate how these two challenges are handled by combining state-of-the-art molecular, anatomical, and physiological techniques. Progress is also being made in observing and modeling connectivity between cell types. Scaling up to larger brain regions, such as the cortex, will require not only technical advances but also careful consideration of the challenges of accuracy and completeness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / cytology*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Retina / cytology*