Early Visual Motion Experience Improves Retinal Encoding of Motion Directions

J Neurosci. 2020 Jul 8;40(28):5431-5442. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0569-20.2020. Epub 2020 Jun 12.


Altered sensory experience in early life often leads to altered response properties of the sensory neurons. This process is mostly thought to happen in the brain, not in the sensory organs. We show that in the mouse retina of both sexes, exposed to a motion-dominated visual environment from eye-opening, the ON-OFF direction selective ganglion cells (ooDSGCs) develop significantly stronger direction encoding ability for motion in all directions. This improvement occurs independent of the motion direction used for training. We demonstrated that this enhanced ability to encode motion direction is mainly attributed to increased response reliability of ooDSGCs. Closer examination revealed that the excitatory inputs from the ON bipolar pathway showed enhanced response reliability after the motion experience training, while other synaptic inputs remain relatively unchanged. Our results demonstrate that retina adapts to the visual environment during neonatal development.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We found that retina, as the first stage of visual sensation, can also be affected by experience dependent plasticity during development. Exposure to a motion enriched visual environment immediately after eye-opening greatly improves motion direction encoding by direction selective retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). These results motivate future studies aimed at understanding how visual experience shapes the retinal circuits and the response properties of retinal neurons.

Keywords: direction selective ganglion cells; experience training; experience-dependent plasticity; motion encoding; retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology