In primate retina, “red-green” color coding is initiated when signals originating in long (L) and middle (M) wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors interact antagonistically. The center-surround receptive field of “midget” ganglion cells provides the neural substrate for L versus M cone-opponent interaction, but the underlying circuitry remains unsettled, centering around the longstanding question of whether specialized cone wiring is present. To address this question, we measured the strength, sign, and spatial tuning of L- and M-cone input to midget receptive fields in the peripheral retina of macaque primates of either sex. Consistent with previous work, cone opponency arose when one of the cone types showed a stronger connection to the receptive field center than to the surround.Weimplemented a difference-of-Gaussians spatial receptive field model, incorporating known biology of the midget circuit, to test whether physiological responses we observed in real cells could be captured entirely by anatomical nonselectivity. When this model sampled nonselectively from a realistic cone mosaic, it accurately reproduced key features of a cone-opponent receptive field structure, and predicted both the variability and strength of cone opponency across the retina. The model introduced here is consistent with abundant anatomical evidence for nonselective wiring, explains both local and global properties of the midget population, and supports a role in their multiplexing of spatial and color information. It provides a neural basis forhumanchromatic sensitivity across the visual field, as well as the maintenance of normal color vision despite significant variability in the relative number of L andMcones across individuals.
- Ganglion cell
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