Visual Neuroscience

Response properties of a unique subtype of wide-field amacrine cell in the rabbit retina

a1 Departments of Ophthalmology and Physiology & Neuroscience, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York

Article author query
bloomfield sa   [Google Scholar] 
volgyi b   [Google Scholar] 


We studied the morphology and physiology of a unique wide-field amacrine cell in the rabbit retina. These cells displayed a stereotypic dendritic morphology consisting of a large, circular and monostratified arbor that often extended over 2 mm. Their responses contained both somatic and dendritic sodium spikes suggesting active propagation of synaptic signals within the dendritic arbor. This idea is supported by the enormous size of their ON-OFF receptive fields. Interestingly, these cells exhibited separate ON and OFF receptive fields that, while concentric, were vastly different in size. Whereas the ON receptive field of these cells extended nearly 2 mm, the OFF receptive field was typically 75% smaller. Blockade of voltage-gated sodium channels with QX-314 dramatically reduced the large ON receptive field, but had little effect on the smaller OFF receptive field. These results indicate a spatial disparity in the location of on- and off-center bipolar cell inputs to the dendritic arbor of wide-field amacrine cells. In addition, the active propagation of signals suggests that synaptic inputs are integrated both locally and globally within the dendritic arbor.

(Received November 2 2006)
(Accepted January 14 2007)

Key Words: Amacrine cell; Dendritic spikes; Active conduction; Retina; Receptive field.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Stewart Bloomfield, Department of Ophthalmology, NYU School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016. E-mail: