Direction-selective retinal ganglion cells (DSGCs) respond to image motion in a 'preferred' direction but not the opposite 'null' direction. Extracellular spike recordings from rabbit DSGCs suggested that the key mechanism underlying the directional responses is spatially offset inhibition projecting in the null direction. Recent patch-clamp recordings have shown that this inhibition, which acts directly on the DSGC, is already direction selective. Dual recordings established that the inhibition arises from starburst amacrine cells (SBACs) located on the null side of the DSGC but not from those on the preferred side. Thus, for each radially symmetric SBAC, processes pointing in different directions would provide the null-direction inhibition to subtypes of DSGCs with different preferred directions. Ca2+ imaging revealed that the SBAC terminal processes respond more strongly to image motion away from the soma than towards the soma, therefore accounting for the direction selectivity of the inhibitory input to the DSGCs.
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