Action potentials are required for the lateral transmission of glycinergic transient inhibition in the amphibian retina

Paul B. Cook, Peter D. Lukasiewicz, John S. McReynolds

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Transient lateral inhibition (TLI), the suppression of responses of a ganglion cell to light stimuli in the receptive field center by changes in illumination in the receptive field surround, was studied in light-adapted mud puppy and tiger salamander retinas using both eyecup and retinal slice preparations. In the eyecup, TLI was measured in on-off ganglion cells as the ability of rotating, concentric windmill patterns of 500-1200 μm inner diameter to suppress the response to a small spot stimulus in the receptive field center. Both the suppression of the spot response and the hyperpolarization produced in ganglion cells by rotation of the windmill were blocked in the presence of 2 μM strychnine or 500 nM tetrodotoxin (TTX), but not by 150 μM picrotoxin. In the slice preparation in which GABA-mediated currents were blocked with picrotoxin, IPSCs elicited by diffuse illumination were blocked by strychnine and strongly reduced by TTX. The TTX-resistant component was probably attributable to illumination of the receptive field center. TTX had a much greater effect in reducing the glycinergic inhibition elicited by laterally displaced stimulation versus nearby focal electrical stimulation. Strychnine enhanced light-evoked excitatory currents in ganglion cells, but this was not mimicked by TTX. The results suggest that local glycinergic transient inhibition does not require action potentials and is mediated by synapses onto both ganglion cell dendrites and bipolar cell terminals. In contrast, the lateral spread of this inhibition (at least over distances >250 μm) requires action potentials and is mainly onto ganglion cell dendrites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2301-2308
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1998


  • Action potentials
  • Ganglion celt
  • Glycine
  • Lateral inhibition
  • Receptive field
  • Retina


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