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Journal Article

Sub‐topographic maps for regionally enhanced analysis of visual space in the mouse retina


In many species, neurons are unevenly distributed across the retina, leading to nonuniform analysis of specific visual features at certain locations in visual space. In recent years, the mouse has emerged as a premiere model for probing visual system function, development, and disease. Thus, achieving a detailed understanding of mouse visual circuit architecture is of paramount importance. The general belief is that mice possess a relatively even topographic distribution of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs)—the output neurons of the eye. However, mouse RGCs include ∼30 subtypes; each responds best to a specific feature in the visual scene and conveys that information to central targets. Given the crucial role of RGCs and the prominence of the mouse as a model, we asked how different RGC subtypes are distributed across the retina. We targeted and filled individual fluorescently tagged RGC subtypes from across the retinal surface and evaluated the dendritic arbor extent and soma size of each cell according to its specific retinotopic position. Three prominent RGC subtypes: On‐Off direction selective RGCs, object‐motion‐sensitive RGCs, and a specialized subclass of nonimage‐forming RGCs each had marked topographic variations in their dendritic arbor sizes. Moreover, the pattern of variation was distinct for each RGC subtype. Thus, there is increasing evidence that the mouse retina encodes visual space in a region‐specific manner. As a consequence, some visual features are sampled far more densely at certain retinal locations than others. These findings have implications for central visual processing, perception, and behavior in this prominent model species.

Rana N. El-Danaf
Andrew D. Huberman
Journal Name
The Journal of Comparative Neurology
Publication Date
April 20, 2018