Visual Neuroscience

Research Articles

Spectral sensitivity of ON and OFF responses from the optic nerve of goldfish

Paul J. DeMarco Jra1 and Maureen K. Powersa1

a1 Department of Psychology and Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville


The vertebrate retina processes visual information in parallel neural pathways known as the ON and OFF pathways. These pathways encode increments and decrements of light independently as excitatory responses. We examined the photopic spectral response of ON and OFF mechanisms in goldfish by measuring the sensitivity of optic nerve responses to the onset and termination of stimuli of various wavelengths. Using various adapting backgrounds, we found that the ON and OFF responses have different spectral sensitivities. The weighting of the cone inputs to the responses was estimated by an algebraic summation model. This model suggests that for the ON response, input from S-cones is stronger and more independent than for the OFF response, and M- and L-cones show stronger antagonism in the ON response than in the OFF response. The OFF response probably receives input from all cone types, but spectral antagonism is weak and its dominant input is from L-cones.

(Received June 13 1990)

(Accepted November 05 1990)


Reprint requests to: Paul DeMarco, Jr., Visual Sciences Center, The University of Chicago, 939 East 57th St., Chicago, IL 60637, USA.