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The fundamental plan of the retina

Abstract

The retina, like many other central nervous system structures, contains a huge diversity of neuronal types. Mammalian retinas contain approximately 55 distinct cell types, each with a different function. The census of cell types is nearing completion, as the development of quantitative methods makes it possible to be reasonably confident that few additional types exist. Although much remains to be learned, the fundamental structural principles are now becoming clear. They give a bottom-up view of the strategies used in the retina's processing of visual information and suggest new questions for physiological experiments and modeling.

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Figure 1: The major cell types of a typical mammalian retina.
Figure 2: The bipolar cell pathways of mammalian retinas, assembled from individual components.
Figure 3: The connections with cones and axonal stratification of different types of bipolar cells.
Figure 4: How transient (high-pass) and sustained (low-pass) bipolar cells decompose the output of a cone.
Figure 6: The fundamental signal-carrying pathways of a generic mammalian retina, reduced to a conceptual minimum.
Figure 5: The types of ganglion cells identified thus far in the retina of the cat.

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Acknowledgements

R. Rockhill made the illustrations. B. Boycott and P. Sterling made comments on the manuscript. The author is a Senior Investigator of Research to Prevent Blindness.

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Masland, R. The fundamental plan of the retina. Nat Neurosci 4, 877–886 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn0901-877

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nn0901-877

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