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Spatially displaced excitation contributes to the encoding of interrupted motion by the retinal direction-selective circuit

By Jennifer Ding, Albert Chen, Janet Chung, Hector Acaron Ledesma, David M Berson, Stephanie Palmer, Wei Wei

Posted 31 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.29.124461

Spatially distributed excitation and inhibition collectively shape a visual neuron’s receptive field (RF) properties. In the direction-selective circuit of the mammalian retina, the effects of strong null-direction inhibition of On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells (ON-OFF DSGCs) on their direction selectivity are well-studied. However, how excitatory inputs influence the On-Off DSGC’s visual response is underexplored. Here, we report that the glutamatergic excitation of On-Off DSGCs shows a spatial displacement to the side where preferred-direction motion stimuli approach the soma (the ‘preferred side’). Underlying this displacement is a non-uniform distribution of excitatory conductance across the dendritic span of the DSGC on the preferred-null motion axis. The skewed excitatory RF contributes to robust null-direction spiking during RF activation limited to the preferred side, a potential ethologically relevant signal to encode interrupted or discontinuous motion trajectories abundant in natural scenes. Theoretical analysis indicates that such differential firing patterns of On-Off DSGCs to continuous and interrupted motion stimuli may help leverage synchronous firing to signal the spatial location of a moving object in complex, naturalistic visual environments. Our study highlights that visual circuitry, even the well-defined direction-selective circuit, exploits different sets of neural mechanisms under different stimulus conditions to generate context-dependent neural representations of visual features. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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