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Vision Res. 1996 Apr;36(7):913-31.

The time course of adaptation in macaque retinal ganglion cells.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, FRG.


The time course of adaptation of cells of the parvocellular (PC) and magnocellular (MC) pathways has been characterized following changes in retinal illuminance or chromaticity. Adaptation state was cycled between high and low luminance levels or between backgrounds with wavelengths metameric to 630 and 570 nm. Cell responsivity was probed with brief bursts of luminance or chromatic modulation. After a change in luminance, adaptation of both MC-cells (tested with a luminance probe) and red-green PC-cells (tested with a chromatic probe) was relatively rapid and largely complete within 100 msec or less. After a change in chromaticity, recovery of responsivity in red-green PC-cells was dependent on cell type. Recovery of responsivity with backgrounds elevating maintained firing was complete within a few seconds, but with backgrounds suppressing cell firing, recovery took many tens of seconds. This very slow time course may be due to a threshold effect. In experiments with backgrounds which selectively adapted one cone type, use of cone-isolating probes indicated that the time course of PC-cell chromatic adaptation may be determined at a site after the subtraction of cone signals. Recovery of responsivity of MC-cells was also prolonged over several seconds following a chromatic change. Our data suggest that adaptation in macaque ganglion cells depends on mechanisms both before and after the site of cone interaction, and that these mechanisms may differ in time course between MC- and PC-cells. The results indicate that it may be important in psychophysical adaptation experiments to consider the presence of multiple postreceptoral mechanisms with different adaptation characteristics.

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