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Mature Retina Compensates Functionally for Partial Loss of Rod Photoreceptors.


Loss of primary neuronal inputs inevitably strikes every neural circuit. The deafferented circuit could propagate, amplify, or mitigate input loss, thus affecting the circuit's output. How the deafferented circuit contributes to the effect on the output is poorly understood because of lack of control over loss of and access to circuit elements. Here, we control the timing and degree of rod photoreceptor ablation in mature mouse retina and uncover compensation. Following loss of half of the rods, rod bipolar cells mitigate the loss by preserving voltage output. Such mitigation allows partial recovery of ganglion cell responses. We conclude that rod death is compensated for in the circuit because ganglion cell responses to stimulation of half of the rods in an unperturbed circuit are weaker than responses after death of half of the rods. The dominant mechanism of such compensation includes homeostatic regulation of inhibition to balance the loss of excitation.

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