Centrifugal inputs enhance responses of retinal ganglion cells in the Japanese quail without changing their spatial coding properties

Vision Research
H Uchiyama, R B Barlow


Centrifugal fibers originating in the midbrain innervate the avian retina. Stimulation of the centrifugal fibers enhances the responses of ganglion cells in the retinas of both chick and pigeon. The enhanced responses have been attributed to disinhibition, a reduction of the inhibitory surround component of the receptive fields of retinal ganglion cells. We found that stimulation of the centrifugal fibers in Japanese quail enhances the responses of retinal ganglion cells to drifting sine-wave gratings over a wide range of spatial frequencies. Our results do not support the idea that centrifugal inputs selectively influence receptive field surrounds. We also found that centrifugal inputs changed the temporal response properties of retinal ganglion cells by enhancing their responses to sine-wave gratings drifting across the retina at higher temporal frequencies (> 5 Hz). The result shows that centrifugal inputs from the midbrain can enhance responses of retinal ganglion cells without affecting the center-surround organization of their receptive fields. The centrifugal modulation of retinal responses may have a role in shifting visual attention.


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