Function first: classifying cell types and circuits of the retina

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2019 Jun;56:8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.10.011. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


Cell type classification has been a major part of retina research for over one hundred years. In recent years, the ability to sample large populations of retinal cells has accelerated cell type classification based on different criteria like genetics, morphology, function, and circuitry. For example, recent work includes bipolar and retinal ganglion cell classifications based on single-cell transcriptomes, large-scale electron microscopy reconstruction, and population-level functional imaging. With comprehensive descriptions of several retinal cell classes now within reach, it is important to reflect on the priority of these different criteria to create an accurate and useful classification. Here, we argue that functional information about retinal cells should be prioritized over other criteria when addressing questions of visual function because this criterion provides the most meaningful information about how the retina works.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Retina*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells
  • Vision, Ocular
  • Visual Pathways*