A ganglion cell's receptive field is defined as that region on the retinal surface in which a light stimulus will produce a response. While neighboring ganglion cells may respond to the same stimulus in a region where their receptive fields overlap, it generally has been assumed that each cell makes an independent decision about whether to fire. Recent recordings from cat and salamander retina using multiple electrodes have challenged this view of independent firing by showing that neighboring ganglion cells have an increased tendency to fire together within ±5 ms. However, there is still uncertainty about which types of ganglion cells fire together, the mechanisms that produce coordinated spikes, and the overall function of coordinated firing. To address these issues, the responses of up to 80 rabbit retinal ganglion cells were recorded simultaneously using a multielectrode array. Of the 11 classes of rabbit ganglion cells previously identified, coordinated firing was observed in five. Plots of the spike train cross-correlation function suggested that coordinated firing occurred through two mechanisms. In the first mechanism, a spike in an interneuron diverged to produce simultaneous spikes in two ganglion cells. This mechanism predominated in four of the five classes including the ON brisk transient cells. In the second mechanism, ganglion cells appeared to activate each other reciprocally. This was the predominant pattern of correlated firing in OFF brisk transient cells. By comparing the receptive field profiles of ON and OFF brisk transient cells, a peripheral extension of the OFF brisk transient cell receptive field was identified that might be produced by lateral spike spread. Thus an individual OFF brisk transient cell can respond both to a light stimulus directed at the center of its receptive field and to stimuli that activate neighboring OFF brisk transient cells through their receptive field centers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas