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The retinal hypercircuit: a repeating synaptic interactive motif underlying visual function.

  • Author(s): Werblin, Frank S
  • et al.

The vertebrate retina generates a stack of about a dozen different movies that represent the visual world as dynamic neural images or movies. The stack is embodied as separate strata that span the inner plexiform layer (IPL). At each stratum, ganglion cell dendrites reach up to read out inhibitory interactions between three different amacrine cell classes that shape bipolar-to-ganglion cell transmission. The nexus of these five cell classes represents a functional module, a retinal 'hypercircuit', that is repeated across the surface of each of the dozen strata that span the depth of the IPL. Individual differences in the characteristics of each cell class at each stratum lead to the unique processing characteristics of each neural image throughout the stack. This review shows how the interactions between the morphological and physiological characteristics of each cell class generate many of the known retinal visual functions including motion detection, directional selectivity, local edge detection, looming detection, object motion and looming detection.

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