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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Jan 15;364(3):556-566.

ON-OFF amacrine cells in cat retina.

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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Maryland 20892, USA.


We studied the morphology, photic responses, and synaptic connections of ON-OFF amacrine cells in the cat retina by penetrating them with intracellular electrodes, staining them with horseradish peroxidase, and examining them with the electron microscope. In a sample of seven cells, we found two different morphological types: the A19, which ramifies narrowly in stratum 2 (sublamina a) of the inner plexiform layer, and the A22, which ramifies mostly in stratum 4 (sublamina b) but extends some dendrites to sublamina a. Both of these cell types have axon-like processes that extend > 800 microns from the conventional dendritic arbor. ON-OFF amacrine cells in our sample had receptive fields (1.7 +/- 0.3 mm diameter) that were broader than their dendritic arbors (425 +/- 35 microns diameter) and that extended over the region of axon-like processes. In addition, we found many features in common with ON-OFF amacrine cells in poikilotherm vertebrates: a broad receptive field without surround antagonism, two sizes of spike-like events, narrow dynamic range (1 log unit intensity), and excitatory postsynaptic potentials at light on and light off. Two A19 amacrine cells were examined in the electron microscope: most synaptic inputs (93 and 76%, respectively) to either cell were from amacrine cells, with minor inputs from cone bipolar cells. Synaptic outputs were to bipolar, amacrine, and ganglion cells, including the OFF-alpha cell.

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