Displaced starburst amacrine cells (SACs) are retinal interneurons that exhibit GABA
receptor-mediated and Cl
− cotransporter-mediated, directionally selective (DS) light responses in the rabbit retina. They depolarize to stimuli that move centrifugally through the receptive field surround and hyperpolarize to stimuli that move centripetally through the surround (Gavrikov et al, PNAS 100(26):16047–16052, 2003, PNAS 103(49):18793–18798, 2006). They also play a key role in the activity of DS ganglion cells (DS GC; Amthor et al, Vis Neurosci 19:495–509 2002; Euler et al, Nature 418:845–852, 2002; Fried et al, Nature 420:411– 414, 2002; Gavrikov et al, PNAS 100(26):16047–16052, 2003, PNAS 103(49):18793–18798, 2006; Lee and Zhou, Neuron 51:787–799 2006; Yoshida et al, Neuron 30:771–780, 2001). In this paper we present a model of strong DS behavior of SACs which relies on the GABA-mediated communication within a tightly interconnected network of these cells and on the glutamate signal that the SACs receive from bipolar cells (a presynaptic cell that receives input from cones). We describe how a moving light stimulus can produce a large, sustained depolarization of the SAC dendritic tips that point in the direction that the stimulus moves (i.e., centrifugal motion), but produce a minimal depolarization of the dendritic tips that point in the opposite direction (i.e., centripetal motion). This DS behavior, which is quantified based on the relative size and duration of the depolarizations evoked by stimulus motion at dendritic tips pointing in opposite directions, is robust to changes of many different parameter values and consistent with experimental data. In addition, the DS behavior is strengthened under the assumptions that the Cl− cotransporters Na + -K + -Cl − and K + -Cl − are located in different regions of the SAC dendritic tree (Gavrikov et al, PNAS 103(49):18793–18798, 2006) and that GABA evokes a long-lasting response (Gavrikov et al, PNAS 100(26):16047–16052, 2003, PNAS 103(49):18793–18798, 2006; Lee and Zhou, Neuron 51:787–799, 2006). A possible mechanism is discussed based on the generation of waves of local glutamate and GABA secretion, and their postsynaptic interplay as the waves travel between cell compartments.