Mechanisms of concerted firing among retinal ganglion cells

Neuron. 1998 Mar;20(3):527-39. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80992-7.


Nearby retinal ganglion cells often fire action potentials in near synchrony. We have investigated the circuit mechanisms that underlie these correlations by recording simultaneously from many ganglion cells in the salamander retina. During spontaneous activity in darkness, three types of correlations were distinguished: broad (firing synchrony within 40-100 ms), medium (10-50 ms), and narrow (<1 ms). When chemical synaptic transmission was blocked, the broad correlations disappeared, but the medium and narrow correlations persisted. Further analysis of the strength and time course of synchronous firing suggests that nearby ganglion cells share inputs from photoreceptors conveyed through interneurons via chemical synapses (broad correlations), share excitation from amacrine cells via electrical junctions (medium), and excite each other via electrical junctions (narrow). It appears that the firing patterns in the optic nerve are strongly shaped by electrical coupling in the inner retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Ambystoma
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Dark Adaptation / physiology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology