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J Vis. 2010 Sep 3;10(11):4. doi: 10.1167/10.11.4.

Combination of rod and cone inputs in parasol ganglion cells of the magnocellular pathway.

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Sections of Surgical Research and Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


This study investigates how rod and cone inputs are combined in the magnocellular (MC) pathway in the mesopic luminance range, when both rods and cones are active. Responses of parafoveal MC ganglion cells from macaque retina were measured as a function of temporal frequency (0.62-20 Hz) or contrast (0.05-0.55) at mesopic light levels (0.2, 2, 20, and 200 td). Stimuli were of three modulation types: (1) isolated rod stimuli (only rod signals were modulated), (2) isolated cone stimuli (only cone luminance signals from long- and middle-wavelength sensitive cones were modulated), and (3) combined rod and cone stimuli (both rod and cone luminance signals were modulated in phase, as with conventional stimuli). The results showed that under mesopic conditions, the relative rod and cone inputs to the MC cells varied with light level and they are combined linearly prior to saturation. Further, rod contrast gain is relatively stable over the mesopic range while cone contrast gain increased with light level. Finally, the measured rod and cone inputs are consistent with the measured human temporal contrast sensitivity functions under comparable stimulation conditions.

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