Synaptic mechanisms that shape visual signaling at the inner retina

Peter D. Lukasiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The retina is a layered structure that processes information in two stages. The outer plexiform layer (OPL) comprises the first stage and is where photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and horizontal cells interact synaptically. This is the synaptic layer where ON and OFF responses to light are formed, as well as the site where receptive field center and surround organization is first thought to occur. The inner plexiform layer (IPL) is where the second stage of synaptic interactions occurs. This synaptic layer is where subsequent visual processing occurs that may contribute to the formation of transient responses, which may underlie motion and direction sensitivity. In addition, synaptic interactions in the IPL may also contribute to the classical ganglion cell receptive field properties. This chapter will focus on the synapse and network properties at the IPL that sculpt light-evoked ganglion cell responses. These include synaptic mechanisms that may shape ganglion cell responses like desensitizing glutamate receptors and transporters, which remove glutamate from the synapse. Recent work suggests that inhibitory signaling at the IPL contributes to the surround receptive field organization of ganglion cells. A component of this amacrine cell inhibitory signaling is mediated by GABA C receptors, which are found on bipolar cell axon terminals in the IPL. Pharmacological experiments show that a component of the ganglion cell surround signal is mediated by these receptors, indicating that the ganglion cell center and surround receptive field organization is not formed entirely in the outer plexiform layer, as earlier thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Issue numberSPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - 2005


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