Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells: Many subtypes, diverse functions

Tiffany M. Schmidt*, Shih Kuo Chen, Samer Hattar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

407 Scopus citations


For decades, rods and cones were thought to be the only photoreceptors in the mammalian retina. However, a population of atypical photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) expresses the photopigment melanopsin and is intrinsically photosensitive (ipRGCs). These ipRGCs are crucial for relaying light information from the retina to the brain to control circadian photoentrainment, pupillary light reflex, and sleep. ipRGCs were initially described as a uniform population involved solely in signaling irradiance for non-image forming functions. Recent work, however, has uncovered that ipRGCs are unexpectedly diverse at the molecular, cellular and functional levels, and could even be involved in image formation. This review summarizes our current understanding of the diversity of ipRGCs and their various roles in modulating behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-580
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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