At early stages of visual processing, receptive fields are typically described as subtending local regions of space and thus performing computations on a narrow spatial scale. Nevertheless, stimulation well outside of the classical receptive field can exert clear and significant effects on visual processing. Given the distances over which they occur, the retinal mechanisms responsible for these long-range effects would certainly require signal propagation via active membrane properties. Here the physiology of a wide-field amacrine cell-the wiry cell-in macaque monkey retina is explored, revealing receptive fields that represent a striking departure from the classic structure. A single wiry cell integrates signals over wide regions of retina, 5-10 times larger than the classic receptive fields of most retinal ganglion cells. Wiry cells integrate signals over space much more effectively than predicted from passive signal propagation, and spatial integration is strongly attenuated during blockade of NMDA spikes but integration is insensitive to blockade of NaV channels with TTX. Thus these cells appear well suited for contributing to the long-range interactions of visual signals that characterize many aspects of visual perception.
Keywords: amacrine cell; dendritic spike; light encoding; physiology.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.