Inter-mosaic coordination of retinal receptive fields

Nature. 2021 Apr;592(7854):409-413. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03317-5. Epub 2021 Mar 10.


The output of the retina is organized into many detector grids, called 'mosaics', that signal different features of visual scenes to the brain1-4. Each mosaic comprises a single type of retinal ganglion cell (RGC), whose receptive fields tile visual space. Many mosaics arise as pairs, signalling increments (ON) and decrements (OFF), respectively, of a particular visual feature5. Here we use a model of efficient coding6 to determine how such mosaic pairs should be arranged to optimize the encoding of natural scenes. We find that information is maximized when these mosaic pairs are anti-aligned, meaning that the distances between the receptive field centres across mosaics are greater than expected by chance. We tested this prediction across multiple receptive field mosaics acquired using large-scale measurements of the light responses of rat and primate RGCs. ON and OFF RGC pairs with similar feature selectivity had anti-aligned receptive field mosaics, consistent with this prediction. ON and OFF RGC types that encode distinct features have independent mosaics. These results extend efficient coding theory beyond individual cells to predict how populations of diverse types of RGC are spatially arranged.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology*