Spatiotemporal patterns at the retinal output

J Neurophysiol. 1998 Jul;80(1):447-51. doi: 10.1152/jn.1998.80.1.447.


Edge enhancement in the retina is thought to be mediated by classical center-surround antagonism, first encountered as the interactions between horizontal cells and cones. But in the salamander retina these interactions do little to enhance edges. Instead, a robust dynamic interaction between amacrine and bipolar cells appears to be responsible for a sharp edge enhancement. To demonstrate this we recorded extracellularly from a single ganglion cell and moved a flashed square, 300 micro(m) on a side, over a 1.5 x 1.0 mm2 grid at 25-micro(m) increments. Playing back all of these recordings simultaneously simulated the pattern of responses that would have been measured from an array of ganglion cells. The emerging pattern of ganglion cell activity first faithfully represented the flashed square, but after approximately 60 ms the center of the representation collapsed, leaving a representation of only the edges. We inferred that the feedback synapse from amacrine to bipolar cells at gamma-aminobutyric acid-C (GABAC) receptors mediated this effect: bicuculline and strychnine were ineffective in altering the response pattern, but in picrotoxin the center of the representation did not collapse. The GABAergic amacrine cells thought to mediate this effect have quite narrow spread of processes, so the existence of this edge-enhancing effect suggests a mechanism quite different from classical lateral inhibition, namely the delayed inhibition of a spatially expanding input pattern.

MeSH terms

  • Ambystoma
  • Animals
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Picrotoxin / pharmacology
  • Reaction Time
  • Receptors, Glycine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Strychnine / pharmacology


  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Picrotoxin
  • Strychnine
  • Bicuculline