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J Physiol. 1988 Feb;396:205-24.

Visual resolution of macaque retinal ganglion cells.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, F.R.G.


1. The visual resolving ability of different types of macaque retinal ganglion cells was estimated at different retinal eccentricities, by measuring the amplitude of modulated responses to black-white gratings of spatial frequencies near the resolution limit for each cell. 2. The resolving ability of tonic, spectrally opponent ganglion cells was usually similar to that of phasic, non-opponent ganglion cells at similar eccentricities, except that at eccentricities greater than 10 deg some tonic ganglion cells with remarkably high resolution (up to ca. 15 cycles/deg) were found. Our cell sample was limited within the central 2 deg of the visual field, however. 3. Only a small proportion of phasic ganglion cells showed an increase of mean firing level to gratings near the resolution limit. The maintained firing of tonic ganglion cells was higher than that of phasic ganglion cells. 4. With red-black or green-black gratings, the resolution of phasic ganglion cells was unaffected. For red or green on-centre ganglion cells, a marked deterioration of resolving ability occurred when the grating was of a colour to which a cell responded poorly (green-black gratings for red on-centre cells, and red-black gratings for green on-centre cells). A slight improvement in resolving ability occurred when the grating was of an excitatory colour. 5. For a sub-sample of cells, we compared resolution limit with centre size as determined from area-threshold curves. For both phasic and tonic ganglion cells, resolution limit (the period length just resolved) was about half the centre diameter, as is the case for cat ganglion cells. This implies that the centre sizes of phasic and tonic monkey ganglion cells are similar at most eccentricities. 6. We attempt to relate these results to primate retinal anatomy and visual resolution, determined behaviourally.

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