The distribution of the alpha type of ganglion cells in the cat's retina

The Journal of Comparative Neurology
H WässleB G Cleland


There is a distinct class of large ganglion cell bodies observable in whole-mount preparations of the cat's retina stained with cresyl violet. Measurements of perikaryal size and its variation with eccentricity from the central area support the identification of the large cells with the class of alpha cells previously defined in Golgi-stained preparations. A complete enumeration of alpha cells in one retina yielded a total of 6212. They were encountered in all parts of the retina and had a peak density within the central area ( 200/mm2). The retinal distribution was displayed as a contour map of alpha-cell density. Away from the central area, the lines of iso-density had the form of a 4-pointed star with rather blunt points corresponding to horizontal and vertical ridges of augmented density. Along horizontal, vertical and oblique strips through the central area, alpha-cell density was an approximately constant fraction of total ganglion cell-density. The average value of the fraction was 3.3% from which it has been calculated that the cat's retina may contain as many as 190,000 ganglion cells.


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