New Neural Circuits Discovered in Retina

September 24, 2009

Researchers at the Rava Azeredo da Silveira of the Laboratoire de Physique Statistique of the École Normale Supérieure have found a new ganglion cell type in the retina of mice.  This cell is sensitive to approaching motion. These neurons are activated when an object is looming; however, these cells do not respond if the motion is lateral or receding.

During the experiment, the neurons and neural circuit were isolated. This type of retinal neuron uses a rapid inhibitory neural pathway in its circuit and ‘suppresses’ any response to a stimulus other than approaching motion.

But, although this inhibitory pathway has already been identified as being involved in nocturnal vision, it here involves diurnal vision. This is an example of efficient adaptation: the same circuit of neurons has acquired different functions depending on the physiological conditions to which it is subjected.

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