Neural sensitization improves encoding fidelity in the primate retina

Todd R. Appleby and Michael B. Manookin

Feb 05, 2019

Received Date: 11th January 19

An animal’s motion through the environment can induce large and frequent fluctuations in light intensity on the retina. These fluctuations pose a major challenge to neural circuits tasked with encoding visual information, as they can cause cells to adapt and lose sensitivity. Here, we report that sensitization, a short-term plasticity mechanism, solves this difficult computational problem by maintaining neuronal sensitivity in the face of these fluctuations. The numerically dominant output pathway in the macaque monkey retina, the midget (parvocellular-projecting) pathway, undergoes sensitization under specific conditions, including simulated eye movements. Sensitization is present in the excitatory synaptic inputs from midget bipolar cells and is mediated by presynaptic disinhibition from wide-field amacrine cells. Direct physiological recordings and a computational model indicate that sensitization in the midget pathway supports accurate sensory encoding and prevents a loss of responsiveness during dynamic visual processing.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature