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J Submicrosc Cytol Pathol. 2003 Oct;35(4):359-71.

Kuffler's inhibitory surround, the function of the inner plexiform layer and an information processing unit in the retina. Neural interaction at the nanometer level.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Comparing Kuffler's recordings of ganglion cell discharges and bipolar cell responses to the same stimuli, deduced on the basis of a knowledge of synaptic connections between the neurons, revealed that the bipolar cell signals had not been modified by synaptic interaction in the inner plexiform layer. This layer therefore receives bipolar cell signals generated by groups of bipolar cells within the center of ganglion cell receptive fields, sorts and distributes the signals to a (compared to the number of photoreceptors and bipolar cells), small number of ganglion cells in such a way that the retinal image can be reconstructed in the visual center by reversing the fusion. Transmission between photoreceptor and bipolar cell is controlled by an information processing circuit receiving information from one photoreceptor, from the large horizontal cell network, formed by synaptic connections between the large horizontal cell processes, from cone networks formed by the cone processes connecting cones and from one small horizontal cell. Interaction between input neurons shapes the input to the bipolar cell. The interaction establishes a gate like control of transmission at the bipolar cell synapse and maintains bipolar cell threshold at a constant level, two features that prevent noise in the output signal. The output is generated by simultaneous input from all input neurons at the bipolar cell synapse, a multiinput synapse. Bipolar cell response is therefore based on perfect timing of fusion of information and of the neural interaction preceding fusion. Proper timing is secured by the dimensions of the components of the circuit measuring in the nanometer range. The volume of the information processing circuit is only 0.3 cubic micrometer, which is less than one two hundredth the volume of the soma of a bipolar cell. Extension of the study of the nervous system to the nanometer level opens a new field of research by making it possible to analyze how information contributed by the sense organs is processed in the nervous system to regulate body functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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