Neural Mechanisms of Motion Processing in the Mammalian Retina

Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2018 Sep 15:4:165-192. doi: 10.1146/annurev-vision-091517-034048. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Visual motion on the retina activates a cohort of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). This population activity encodes multiple streams of information extracted by parallel retinal circuits. Motion processing in the retina is best studied in the direction-selective circuit. The main focus of this review is the neural basis of direction selectivity, which has been investigated in unprecedented detail using state-of-the-art functional, connectomic, and modeling methods. Mechanisms underlying the encoding of other motion features by broader RGC populations are also discussed. Recent discoveries at both single-cell and population levels highlight the dynamic and stimulus-dependent engagement of multiple mechanisms that collectively implement robust motion detection under diverse visual conditions.

Keywords: direction selectivity; motion detection; retina; starburst amacrine cell; synapses; synaptic circuit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / physiology
  • Animals
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology