On Directional Selectivity in Vertebrate Retina: An Experimental and Computational Study
This thesis describes an investigation of retinal directional selectivity. We show intracellular (whole-cell patch) recordings in turtle retina which indicate that this computation occurs prior to the ganglion cell, and we describe a pre-ganglionic circuit model to account for this and other findings which places the non-linear spatio-temporal filter at individual, oriented amacrine cell dendrites. The key non-linearity is provided by interactions between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs onto the dendrites, and their distal tips provide directionally selective excitatory outputs onto ganglion cells. Detailed simulations of putative cells support this model, given reasonable parameter constraints. The performance of the model also suggests that this computational substructure may be relevant within the dendritic trees of CNS neurons in general.