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Journal of Neuroscience


The receptive field of the Y-ganglion cell comprises two excitatory mechanisms: one integrates linearly over a narrow field, and the other integrates nonlinearly over a wide field. The linear mechanism has been attributed to input from bipolar cells, and the nonlinear mechanism has been attributed to input from a class of amacrine cells whose nonlinear "subunits" extend across the linear receptive field and beyond. However, the central component of the nonlinear mechanism could in theory be driven by bipolar input if that input were rectified. Recording intracellularly from the Y-cell in guinea pig retina, we blocked the peripheral component of the nonlinear mechanism with tetrodotoxin and found the remaining nonlinear receptive field to be precisely co-spatial with the central component of the linear receptive field. Both linear and nonlinear mechanisms were caused by an excitatory postsynaptic potential that reversed near 0 mV. The nonlinear mechanism depended neither on acetylcholine nor on feedback involving GABA or glycine. Thus the central components of the ganglion cell's linear and nonlinear mechanisms are apparently driven by synapses from the same rectifying bipolar cell.

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