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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Apr;103(4):1856-64. doi: 10.1152/jn.00896.2009. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Receptive field mosaics of retinal ganglion cells are established without visual experience.

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Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley,Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


A characteristic feature of adult retina is mosaic organization: a spatial arrangement of cells of each morphological and functional type that produces uniform sampling of visual space. How the mosaics of visual receptive fields emerge in the retina during development is not fully understood. Here we use a large-scale multielectrode array to determine the mosaic organization of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in rats around the time of eye opening and in the adult. At the time of eye opening, we were able to reliably distinguish two types of ON RGCs and two types of OFF RGCs in rat retina based on their light response and intrinsic firing properties. Although the light responses of individual cells were not yet mature at this age, each of the identified functional RGC types formed a receptive field mosaic, where the spacing of the receptive field centers and the overlap of the receptive field extents were similar to those observed in the retinas of adult rats. These findings suggest that, although the light response properties of RGCs may need vision to reach full maturity, extensive visual experience is not required for individual RGC types to form a regular sensory map of visual space.

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