Origins of direction selectivity in the primate retina

Yeon Jin Kim, Beth B. Peterson, Joanna D. Crook, Hannah R. Joo, Jiajia Wu, Christian Puller, Farrel R. Robinson, Paul D. Gamlin, King Wai Yau, Felix Viana, John B. Troy, Robert G. Smith, Orin S. Packer, Peter B. Detwiler, Dennis M. Dacey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


From mouse to primate, there is a striking discontinuity in our current understanding of the neural coding of motion direction. In non-primate mammals, directionally selective cell types and circuits are a signature feature of the retina, situated at the earliest stage of the visual process. In primates, by contrast, direction selectivity is a hallmark of motion processing areas in visual cortex, but has not been found in the retina, despite significant effort. Here we combined functional recordings of light-evoked responses and connectomic reconstruction to identify diverse direction-selective cell types in the macaque monkey retina with distinctive physiological properties and synaptic motifs. This circuitry includes an ON-OFF ganglion cell type, a spiking, ON-OFF polyaxonal amacrine cell and the starburst amacrine cell, all of which show direction selectivity. Moreover, we discovered that macaque starburst cells possess a strong, non-GABAergic, antagonistic surround mediated by input from excitatory bipolar cells that is critical for the generation of radial motion sensitivity in these cells. Our findings open a door to investigation of a precortical circuitry that computes motion direction in the primate visual system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2862
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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