Roles of visually evoked and spontaneous activity in the development of retinal direction selectivity maps

Trends Neurosci. 2022 Jul;45(7):529-538. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2022.04.002. Epub 2022 Apr 29.


Detecting the direction of motion underlies many visually guided behaviors, from reflexive eye movements to identifying and catching moving objects. A subset of motion sensitive cells are direction selective - responding strongly to motion in one direction and weakly to motion in other directions. In mammals, direction-selective cells are found throughout the visual system, including the retina, superior colliculus, and primary visual cortex. Direction selectivity maps are well characterized in the mouse retina, where the preferred directions of retinal direction-selective cells follow the projections of optic flow, generated by the movements animals make as they navigate their environment. Here, we synthesize recent findings implicating activity-dependent mechanisms in the development of retinal direction selectivity maps, with primary focus on studies in mice, and discuss the implications for the development of direction-selective responses in downstream visual areas.

Keywords: activity-dependent development; plasticity; retinal ganglion cell; spontaneous activity; visual experience; visual system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Motion Perception* / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells* / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology