A functional organization of ON and OFF pathways in the rabbit retina.
Intracellular electrophysiological recordings were obtained from amacrine and ganglion cells in an isolated, superfused retina-eyecup preparation of the rabbit. Cells were characterized physiologically, after which cell-staining was accomplished by intracellular iontophoresis of HRP. A computer-assisted image-processing system was used to study the dendritic stratification pattern of HRP-labeled neurons within the inner plexiform layer (IPL). Our results support the concept that the IPL is functionally divided into a distal OFF region and proximal ON layer. ON and OFF ganglion and amacrine cells show dendritic arborizations consistent with this division and ON-OFF ganglion cells have processes in both portions of the IPL. It appears that these functional subdivisions of the IPL reflect excitatory, but not necessarily inhibitory, inputs. Thus, the pattern of dendritic arborization of a cell appears to predict its physiological response polarity, regardless of the type of inhibition it receives.
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