Glycinergic and GABAergic interneurons shift the location and differentially alter the size of ganglion cell receptive field centers in the mammalian retina

Vision Res. 2020 May;170:18-24. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2020.03.002. Epub 2020 Mar 25.


By using the multi-electrode array (MEA) recording technique in conjunction with white-noise checkerboard stimuli and reverse correlation methods, we studied modulatory actions of glycinergic and GABAergic interneurons on spatiotemporal profiles of ganglion cells (GCs) in dark-adapted mouse retinas. We found that application of 2 µM strychnine decreased receptive field center radii of GCs by a mean value of 11%, and shifted the GC receptive field (RF) centers by a mean distance of 28.3 µm. On the other hand, 200 µM picrotoxin + 100 µM bicuculline + 50 µM TPMPA increased GC receptive field center radii by a mean value of 19%, and shifted the GC RF centers by a mean distance of 53.7 µm. Glycinergic neurons in the mouse retina are narrow-field amacrine cells that have been shown to mediate ON-OFF crossover inhibitory synapses within the RGs' RF center, therefore they may increase the size and shift the location of GC RF center by synergistic addition to bipolar cell inputs to GCs. GABAergic neurons are wide-field amacrine cells and horizontal cells that are known to mediate antagonistic surround responses of GCs, and thus they decrease the GCs' RF center size. Our results suggest that a major global function of glycinergic and GABAergic interneurons in the mammalian retina is to provide the flexibility for adjusting the size and location of GCs' RF centers. The apparent shifts of GC RF centers suggest that the synergistic addition by GlyACs and the surround inhibition by GABAergic interneurons are not spatially symmetrical within GC RFs.

Keywords: Amacrine cells; Bicuculline; GABAergic amacrine cells; Glycinergic amacrine cells; Light-evoked spike responses; Picrotoxin; Receptive field center; Receptive field surround; Retinal ganglion cells; SR (gabazine); Strychnine; TPMPA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells
  • Animals
  • Interneurons* / physiology
  • Mice
  • Neural Inhibition* / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina* / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells* / physiology
  • Visual Fields
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid* / metabolism


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid