Functional Organization of Receptive Fields of Movement Detecting Neurons in the Frog’s Retina

  • O.-J. Grüsser
  • U. Grüsser-Cornehls
  • T. H. Bullock


The name “receptive field” (RF) was defined by Hartline 4 as that part of the retina from which stimulation with small light spots elicits an activation of the recorded retinal neuron. Kuffler 5 enlarged this definition by the experimental observation that the on-neurons in the cat’s retina have field centers from which stimulation with light spots elicits an on-activation and off-inhibition, whereas light spots in the annular RF periphery cause an on-inhibition and an off-activation. The off-activation may be explained by a rebound effect or by the assumption that the functional connection of the receptors through the bipolar cells with the retinal ganglion cells is such that an increase of the receptor-potential activates on-neurons and inhibits the off-neurons from the field center, while a decrease of the receptor potential elicits the reverse effect1a. For the field periphery the relations are reversed in toto. An “adequate” stimulus to the cat’s retina activates a neuron from all parts of the RF either at on or off; the RF may be called therefore “excitatory receptive field” (ERF). If there are zones in the retina where any effective stimulation causes only inhibition on a recorded neuron, they may be called “inhibitory receptive fields” (IRF). With this definition the RF of the on- and off-neurons in the cat’s retina would be an ERF, having on- and off-“zones”. The following report demonstrates that a distinction between ERF and IRF must be made to describe adequately the functional organization of the total field of the “movement detecting” neurons in the ganglion cell layer of the frog’s retina. Barlow 1 reported a large inhibiory field in another class of units.


Receptive Field Functional Organization Ganglion Cell Layer Light Spot Simultaneous Movement 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • O.-J. Grüsser
    • 1
  • U. Grüsser-Cornehls
    • 1
  • T. H. Bullock
    • 2
  1. 1.Physiologisches Institut der Freien Universität1 Berlin-DahlemGermany
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUCLALos Angeles 24USA

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