Receptive fields of cones in the retina of the turtle

J Physiol. 1971 Apr;214(2):265-94. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1971.sp009432.


1. Intracellular recordings have been made of the responses to light of single cones in the retina of the turtle. The shape of the hyperpolarizing response to a flash depends on the pattern of retinal illumination as well as the stimulus intensity.2. Although changes in the stimulus pattern can produce changes in the effective stimulus intensity, the responses to certain patterns cannot be matched by any adjustment of stimulus intensity.3. The initial portion of responses to large or small stimulating spots is proportional to light intensity; this allows comparison of responses when the amount of light on a cone is kept constant but the light on surrounding cones is changed. For equal light intensity on the cone, the response to a spot 2 or 4 mu in radius is smaller than that to a spot 70 mu in radius.4. Responses to spots 70 and 600 mu in radius coincide over their rising phases and peaks without any adjustment of stimulus intensity. The responses to the larger spot, however, contain a delayed depolarization not present with the smaller spot.5. During steady illumination of a cone with a small central spot, the response to transient illumination superimposed on the same area is greatly reduced. Illumination of cones in the near surround, however, produces a hyperpolarizing response, and illumination of cones in the more distant surround generates a delayed depolarization.6. The results described above suggested that synaptic signals might impinge on cones. This possibility was tested by electrically polarizing one retinal cell while recording from another.7. Currents passed through a cone within 40 mu of another cone can change the membrane potential of the latter. Not all cones within this distance show the interaction, however, and it has never been detected at distances greater than 50 mu.8. Hyperpolarization of a horizontal cell with applied current can produce a depolarization of a cone in the vicinity. During this depolarization, the response of the cone to a flash is reduced in size and altered in shape.9. It is concluded that the response of a cone to light may be modified by synaptic mechanisms which are activated by peripheral illumination.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Turtles