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Vision Res. 1994 Dec;34(23):3081-96.

Responses to pulses and sinusoids in macaque ganglion cells.

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Department of Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany.


The goal of the study was to compare pulse responses with sinusoidal temporal responsivity. The response of macaque ganglion cells was measured to brief luminance and chromatic pulses and to luminance or chromatic sinusoidal modulation. To make both positive and negative lobes of the pulse response visible, responses to pulses of opposite polarity were combined to yield a linearized pulse response. Tests of superposition were used to evaluate the linearized pulse response to different combinations of pulse duration and Weber contrast. A prediction of the pulse response was derived using sinusoidal responsivity functions and Fourier synthesis. For ganglion cells of the parvocellular (PC) pathway, shape and absolute amplitude of linearized pulse responses corresponded well to the predicted responses over a range of pulse durations at 0.5 and 1.0 Weber contrast for both luminance and chromatic modulation. For ganglion cells of the magnocellular (MC) pathway, shape and amplitude of the linearized pulse responses and the predicted responses corresponded when the contrast-duration product was low. This correspondence held for luminance modulation over a thousand-fold range of retinal illuminance. For contrast-duration combinations that produced a more vigorous response, over 100 imp/sec, the linearized pulse responses of MC-pathway cells became larger and time-advanced relative to the linear prediction until saturation became apparent. Incorporation of high Michelson contrast responses in the Fourier synthesis captured the timing but not the amplitude of the linearized pulse response. The data suggest that a mechanism similar to a contrast gain control acts upon MC- but not PC-pathway-cells. The data confirm that use of linear modelling to describe temporal behaviour of retinal ganglion cells is appropriate for small signals.

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