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Science. 2010 Oct 29;330(6004):669-73. doi: 10.1126/science.1192949.

Filtering of visual information in the tectum by an identified neural circuit.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.

Abstract

The optic tectum of zebrafish is involved in behavioral responses that require the detection of small objects. The superficial layers of the tectal neuropil receive input from retinal axons, while its deeper layers convey the processed information to premotor areas. Imaging with a genetically encoded calcium indicator revealed that the deep layers, as well as the dendrites of single tectal neurons, are preferentially activated by small visual stimuli. This spatial filtering relies on GABAergic interneurons (using the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid) that are located in the superficial input layer and respond only to large visual stimuli. Photo-ablation of these cells with KillerRed, or silencing of their synaptic transmission, eliminates the size tuning of deeper layers and impairs the capture of prey.

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