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Retinal ganglion cell synchronization by fixational eye movements improves feature estimation

Nature Neuroscience volume 5, pages 341347 (2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Image movements relative to the retina are essential for the visual perception of stationary objects during fixation. Here we have measured fixational eye and head movements of the turtle, and determined their effects on the activity of retinal ganglion cells by simulating the movements on the isolated retina. We show that ganglion cells respond mainly to components of periodic eye movement that have amplitudes of roughly the diameter of a photoreceptor. Drift or small head movements have little effect. Driven cells that are located along contrast borders are synchronized, which reliably signals a preceding movement. In an artificial neural network, the estimation of spatial frequencies for various square wave gratings improves when timelocked to this synchronization. This could potentially improve stimulus feature estimation by the brain.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S. Massey, R.A. Normann, R. Weiler and M. Greenlee for critically reading the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the European Community (CORTIVIS) to J.A.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Biology, Neurobiology Group, University of Oldenburg, 26111-Oldenburg, Germany

    • Martin Greschner
    • , Markus Bongard
    •  & Josef Ammermüller
  2. Department of Physics, Complex Systems Group, University of Oldenburg, 26111-Oldenburg, Germany

    • Pal Rujan

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Josef Ammermüller.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nn821

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