Adaptation to background light enables contrast coding at rod bipolar cell synapses

Jiang Bin Ke, Yanbin V. Wang, Bart G. Borghuis, Mark S. Cembrowski, Hermann Riecke, William L. Kath, Jonathan B. Demb*, Joshua H. Singer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Rod photoreceptors contribute to vision over an ~6-log-unit range of light intensities. The wide dynamic range of rod vision is thought to depend upon light intensity-dependent switching between two parallel pathways linking rods to ganglion cells: a rod→rod bipolar (RB) cell pathway that operates at dim backgrounds and a rod→cone→cone bipolar cell pathway that operates at brighter backgrounds. We evaluated this conventional model of rod vision by recording rod-mediated light responses from ganglion and AII amacrine cells and by recording RB-mediated synaptic currents from AII amacrine cells in mouse retina. Contrary to the conventional model, we found that the RB pathway functioned at backgrounds sufficient to activate the rod→cone pathway. As background light intensity increased, the RB's role changed from encoding the absorption of single photons to encoding contrast modulations around mean luminance. This transition is explained by the intrinsic dynamics of transmission from RB synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-401
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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