Light Prior to Eye Opening Promotes Retinal Waves and Eye-Specific Segregation

Neuron. 2018 Dec 5;100(5):1059-1065.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.10.011. Epub 2018 Nov 1.


Retinal waves are bursts of correlated activity that occur prior to eye opening and provide a critical source of activity that drives the refinement of retinofugal projections. Retinal waves are thought to be initiated spontaneously with their spatiotemporal features dictated by immature neural circuits. Here we demonstrate that, during the second postnatal week in mice, changes in light intensity dictate where and when a subset of retinal waves are triggered via activation of conventional photoreceptors. Propagation properties of triggered waves are indistinguishable from spontaneous waves, indicating that they are activating the same retinal circuits. Using whole-brain imaging techniques, we demonstrate that light deprivation prior to eye opening diminishes eye-specific segregation of the retinal projections to the dorsolateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, but not other retinal targets. These data indicate that light that passes through the closed eyelids plays a critical role in the development of the image-forming visual system.

Keywords: CUBIC; GCaMP6; activity-dependent development; intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells; retinal ganglion cells; two-photon calcium imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Eyelids
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / growth & development
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • Glutamic Acid