In humans, midget and parasol ganglion cells account for most of the input from the eyes to the brain. Yet, how they encode visual information is unknown. Here, we perform large-scale multi-electrode array recordings from retinas of treatment-naive patients who underwent enucleation surgery for choroidal malignant melanomas. We identify robust differences in the function of midget and parasol ganglion cells, consistent asymmetries between their ON and OFF types (that signal light increments and decrements, respectively) and divergence in the function of human versus non-human primate retinas. Our computational analyses reveal that the receptive fields of human midget and parasol ganglion cells divide naturalistic movies into adjacent spatiotemporal frequency domains with equal stimulus power, while the asymmetric response functions of their ON and OFF types simultaneously maximize stimulus coverage and information transmission and minimize metabolic cost. Thus, midget and parasol ganglion cells in the human retina efficiently encode our visual environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-666.e5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 19 2020


  • LN model
  • efficient coding
  • human neuroscience
  • metabolic cost
  • mutual information
  • naturalistic movies
  • parallel processing
  • redundancy
  • white noise


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