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Neural response mechanisms in the photoreceptive pineal organ of goldfish.


In order to classify the different cell types involved in signal transmission of the photoreceptive pineal organ of the goldfish, Carassius auratus, intra- and extracellular electrical responses were recorded from photoreceptors and second-order neurons. Photoreceptor responses to light consisted of hyperpolarizing potentials up to 30 mV. The responses were graded with intensity and their voltage-intensity relation followed the hyperbolic function V/Vmax = In/In + sigma n. Latencies varied between 500 msec for responses near threshold and 60 msec for supersaturating flashes. The response duration increased up to 60 sec for flashes 2 log units above the saturation level. Action spectra of individual photoreceptors peaked at lambda max = 530 nm and corresponded to measurements of extracellular slow mass potentials or spike potentials. Slow mass potentials exhibited similar characteristics as intracellular recorded photoreceptor potentials with respect to latency, voltage-intensity curves and spectral sensitivity. Ganglion cells showed maintained discharges under conditions of steady illumination. The discharge rate changed inversely with the logarithm of steady illumination over a range of 8 log units. The response to light flashes was purely achromatic and consisted of inhibition of the maintained discharge. The physiological properties demonstrate that the pineal organ of the goldfish is an effective functional photoreceptor organ operating both in dim and in bright light. The light-induced hyperpolarization of photoreceptors lead to an inhibition of the nervous discharge of ganglion cells. The direct flow of information from photoreceptors to ganglion cells is the basic channel of data processing in the goldfish pineal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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