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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Aug;18(4):396-402. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2008.09.010. Epub 2008 Oct 27.

Synchronized firing in the retina.

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  • 1The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Synchronized firing in neural populations has been proposed to constitute an elementary aspect of the neural code, but a complete understanding of its origins and significance has been elusive. Synchronized firing has been extensively documented in retinal ganglion cells, the output neurons of the retina. However, differences in synchronized firing across species and cell types have led to varied conclusions about its mechanisms and role in visual signaling. Recent work on two identified cell populations in the primate retina, the ON-parasol and OFF-parasol cells, permits a more unified understanding. Intracellular recordings reveal that synchronized firing in these cell types arises primarily from common synaptic input to adjacent pairs of cells. Statistical analysis indicates that local pairwise interactions can explain the pattern of synchronized firing in the entire parasol cell population. Computational analysis reveals that the aggregate impact of synchronized firing on the visual signal is substantial. Thus, in the parasol cells, the origin and impact of synchronized firing on the neural code may be understood as locally shared input which influences the visual signals transmitted from eye to brain.

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