M and L cones in macaque fovea connect to midget ganglion cells by different numbers of excitatory synapses

Nature. 1994 Sep 1;371(6492):70-2. doi: 10.1038/371070a0.


Visual acuity depends on the fine-grained neural image set by the foveal cone mosaic. To preserve this spatial detail, cones transmit through non-divergent pathways: cone-->midget bipolar cell-->midget ganglion cell. Adequate gain must be established along each pathway; crosstalk and sources of variation between pathways must be minimized. These requirements raise fundamental questions regarding the synaptic connections: (1) how many synapses from bipolar to ganglion cell transmit a cone signal and with what degree of crosstalk between adjacent pathways; (2) how accurately these connections are reproduced across the mosaic; and (3) whether the midget circuits for middle (M) and long (L) wavelength sensitive cones are the same. We report here that the midget ganglion cell collects without crosstalk either 28 +/- 4 or 47 +/- 3 midget bipolar synapses. Two cone types are defined by this difference; being about equal in number and distributing randomly in small clusters of like type, they are probably M and L.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fovea Centralis / ultrastructure*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*