A synaptic mechanism for temporal filtering of visual signals

PLoS Biol. 2014 Oct 21;12(10):e1001972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001972. eCollection 2014 Oct.


The visual system transmits information about fast and slow changes in light intensity through separate neural pathways. We used in vivo imaging to investigate how bipolar cells transmit these signals to the inner retina. We found that the volume of the synaptic terminal is an intrinsic property that contributes to different temporal filters. Individual cells transmit through multiple terminals varying in size, but smaller terminals generate faster and larger calcium transients to trigger vesicle release with higher initial gain, followed by more profound adaptation. Smaller terminals transmitted higher stimulus frequencies more effectively. Modeling global calcium dynamics triggering vesicle release indicated that variations in the volume of presynaptic compartments contribute directly to all these differences in response dynamics. These results indicate how one neuron can transmit different temporal components in the visual signal through synaptic terminals of varying geometries with different adaptational properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular
  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Goldfish
  • Models, Biological
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission*
  • Vision, Ocular*
  • Zebrafish