Transiency of retinal ganglion cell action potential responses determined by PSTH time constant

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 12;12(9):e0183436. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183436. eCollection 2017.


Retinal ganglion cells (RGC) have been described to react to light stimuli either by producing short bursts of spikes or by maintaining a longer, continuous train of action potentials. Fast, quickly decaying responses are considered to be transient in nature and encode information about movement and direction, while cell responses that show a slow, drawn-out response fall into the sustained category and are thought to be responsible for carrying information related to color and contrast. Multiple approaches have been introduced thus far to measure and determine response transiency. In this study, we adopted and slightly modified a method described by Zeck and Masland to characterize RGC response transiency values and compare them to those obtained by alternative methods. As the first step, RGC spike responses were elicited by light stimulation and peristimulus time histograms (PSTHs) were generated. PSTHs then were used to calculate the time constant (PSTHτ approach). We show that this method is comparable to or more reliable than alternative approaches to describe the temporal characteristics of RGC light responses. In addition, we also show that PSTHτ-s are compatible with time constants measured on RGC and/or bipolar cell graded potentials; thus they are suitable for studying signaling through parallel retinal pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Space
  • Intracellular Space
  • Light
  • Mice
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / radiation effects
  • Signal Transduction

Grant support

Supported by OTKA K105247 to B.V. and by the Hungarian Brain Research Program (KTIA_NAP_13-2- 2015-0008) to B.V. This research was also supported by the European Union and the State of Hungary, co-financed by the European Social Fund in the framework of TÁMOP- 4.2.4.A/2–11/1-2012-0001 ‘National Excellence Program’ to B.V.