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Vision Res. 1996 Dec;36(24):4089-103.

Effects of horizontal cell network architecture on signal spread in the turtle outer retina. Experiments and simulations.

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Department of Biology, University of Oldenburg, Germany.


In the Pseudemys turtle retina five functionally distinct, electrically coupled networks of horizontal cells distribute signals in the outer plexiform layer. These networks differ significantly in their architecture, as determined by intracellular labeling with Neurobiotin after physiological recording and identification. The density of H1 horizontal cells is highest, ranging around 1800 cells/mm2 at approximately 2.3 mm eccentricity. H1 horizontal cell somata are connected via 6-10 thin, short dendrites. The H1 horizontal cell axon terminal network is composed of thick axon terminals, forming a three-dimensional, sheath-like structure. Networks of coupled H2 and H3 horizontal cells have cell densities of around 210 cells/mm2 and 350 cells/mm2, respectively, at the same eccentricity of 2.3 mm. Cell bodies are connected with 6-12 long, thin dendrites. Here we report for the first time H4 horizontal cell networks. Cell density is approximately 970 cells/mm2 at 2 mm eccentricity, and cell bodies are connected with 6-10 thin, short dendrites. General properties of passive voltage spread were compared for three of these horizontal cell networks using NeuronC. Realistic network architectures were obtained by digitizing the intracellularly labeled networks, respectively. One network obtained from coupled H1 horizontal cell bodies, one from coupled H1 horizontal cell axon terminals, and one from H2 horizontal cells were simulated. These three realistic networks were compared with an artificial, electrically coupled regular triangular network. Passive signal spread in these networks strongly depended on the exact network architecture using otherwise identical parameters. Changes in coupling strength affected signal spread in these networks differently. As in the experimental situation, changes in synaptic conductance influenced signal spread. Some principal effects of extensively coupled horizontal cells on photoreceptor signal processing were simulated with one type of photoreceptor connected by telodendria, synapsing onto an underlying triangular network and receiving feedback synapses. Under certain conditions, spatial information is coded in single photoreceptors. This was also the case in the experimental situation. In the simulation, spatial filter adjustment for optimal spatial coding in photoreceptors can be achieved by changing coupling strength in the horizontal cell network.

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