Revealing a retinal facilitatory effect with the multifocal ERG

  • Dylan Vatcher
  • Allison L. Dorfman
  • Youjia Shen
  • Jia Yue You
  • Vincent Sun
  • Ayesha Khan
  • Robert C. Polomeno
  • Pierre LachapelleEmail author
Original Research Article



We have previously shown that the amplitude of the mfERG response obtained to a single (large) hexagon is significantly smaller than that obtained when summating all the mfERG responses evoked to an array of 7–61 hexagons covering the same retinal area. The purpose of this study was to confirm our initial findings in normal subjects of different ages and in selected patients.


Binocular mfERGs (1, 7, 19, 37 and 61 hexagon arrays; Espion V6.0.54 Diagnosys LLC) were recorded from 40 normal subjects (25 aged 18–25, and 15 aged 3–12). Individual mfERG waveforms evoked in response to the multi-hexagon arrays (7, 19, 37 and 61) were summated, and the amplitude of the resulting composite mfERG waveform was compared to that measured in the response evoked to the single (large) hexagon stimulus to yield the amplitude ratio (i.e., 7:1 X100, 19:1X100, etc.).


In normal subjects, the 7:1 ratio was 119.5 ± 9.2%, a value that gradually decreased to reach 109.4 ± 20.6% with the 61:1 ratio and a finding that was similar across all ages.


The present study indicates a significant enhancement in amplitude of the summed mfERG composite waveform evoked to the 7 hexagon stimulus array (and to a lesser extent to the 19, 37 and 61 stimuli) compared to the 1 hexagon array, possibly mediated through the retinal lateral pathway (horizontal or amacrine cells), a claim that awaits confirmation. Preliminary results obtained from patients treated with Plaquenil suggest that this new method of mfERG analysis might probe a feature of macular function different from that investigated with the more usual method of mfERG ring ratio.


mfERG Lateral interaction Maturation Retina 



This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (MOP 126082 to PL), the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (New Direction in Research Grant to ALD, AK and PL) and the McGill Summer Research Bursary Program (CIHR Health Professional Student Research Award to DV).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Informed consent

All subjects freely consented to participate in this study, and an informed consent was obtained from all participants (or their parents) included in the study.

Human and animal and rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. All procedures performed on our human participants were done so in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of MedicineResearch Institute of the McGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Neurology-NeurosurgeryResearch Institute of the McGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada

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