How sensory systems extract salient features from natural environments and organize them across neural pathways is unclear. Combining single-cell and population two-photon calcium imaging in mice, we discover that retinal ON bipolar cells (second-order neurons of the visual system) are divided into two blocks of four types. The two blocks distribute temporal and spatial information encoding, respectively. ON bipolar cell axons co-stratify within each block, but separate laminarly between them (upper block: diverse temporal, uniform spatial tuning; lower block: diverse spatial, uniform temporal tuning). ON bipolar cells extract temporal and spatial features similarly from artificial and naturalistic stimuli. In addition, they differ in sensitivity to coherent motion in naturalistic movies. Motion information is distributed across ON bipolar cells in the upper and the lower blocks, multiplexed with temporal and spatial contrast, independent features of natural scenes. Comparing the responses of different boutons within the same arbor, we find that axons of all ON bipolar cell types function as computational units. Thus, our results provide insights into the visual feature extraction from naturalistic stimuli and reveal how structural and functional organization cooperate to generate parallel ON pathways for temporal and spatial information in the mammalian retina.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1920
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


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