Steady discharges of X and Y retinal ganglion cells of cat under photopic illuminance

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The discharges of ON-and OFF-center X and Y retinal ganglion cells in the presence of stationary patterns or of a uniform field of photopic luminance were recorded from urethane-anesthetized adult cats. The interval statistics and power spectra of these discharges were determined from these discharge records. The patterned stimuli were selected and positioned with respect to a cell's receptive field so as to generate steady discharges that were different in mean discharge rate from that cell's discharge for the diffuse field. The interval statistics of discharges recorded for diffuse or patterned illumination for all cell types can be modeled, approximately, as coming from renewal processes with gamma-distributed intervals. The gamma order of the interval distributions was found to be nearly proportional to the mean discharge rate for X cells, but not for Y cells. Typical values for the gamma orders and their dependence on mean rate for different cell types are given. The same model of a renewal process with gamma-distributed intervals is used to model the measured power spectra and performs well. When the gamma order is proportional to mean rate, the power spectral density at low temporal frequencies is independent of discharge rate. Gamma order was proportional to mean rate for X cells but not for Y cells. Nonetheless, the power spectral densities of both cell types at low frequencies were approximately independent of discharge rate. Hence, noise in this band of frequencies can be considered additive. The consequences of departures from the renewal process and of the gamma order not being proportional to mean rate are considered. The significance of different rates of discharge for signaling is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-553
Number of pages19
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Cat
  • Maintained discharge
  • Noise
  • Power spectrum
  • Retinal ganglion cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology


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