Direction-selective units in goldfish retina and tectum opticum - review and new aspects

J Integr Neurosci. 2016 Jan 5:1530002. doi: 10.1142/S0219635215300024. Online ahead of print.


The output units of fish retina, i.e., the retinal ganglion cells (detectors), send highly processed information to the primary visual centers of the brain, settled in the midbrain formation tectum opticum (TO). Axons of different fish motion detectors terminate in different tectal levels. In the superficial layer of TO, axons of direction-selective ganglion cells (DS GCs) are terminated. Single unit responses of the DS GCs were recorded in intact fish from their axon terminals in TO. Goldfish DS GCs projecting to TO were shown to comprise six physiological types according to their selectivity to sign of stimulus contrast (ON and OFF units) and their preferred directions: three directions separated by 120[Formula: see text]. These units, characterized by relatively small receptive fields and remarkable spatial resolution should be classified as local motion detectors. In addition to the retinal DS GCs, other kinds of DS units were extracellularly recorded in the superficial and deep sublaminae of tectum. Some features of their responses suggested that they originated from tectal neurons (TNs). Contrary to DS GCs which are characterized by small RFs and use separate ON and OFF channels, DS TNs have extra-large RFs and ON-OFF type responses. DS TNs were shown to select four preferred directions. Three of them are compatible with those already selected on the retinal level. Complementary to them, the fourth DS TN type with rostro-caudal preference (lacking in the retina) has been revealed. Possible functional interrelations between DS GCs and DS TNs are discussed.

Keywords: Goldfish; direction-selective ganglion cells; direction-selective tectal neurons; motion detectors; retina.