Understanding how neural circuits in the brain compute information not only requires determining how individual inhibitory and excitatory elements of circuits are wired together, but also a detailed knowledge of their functional interactions. Recent advances in optogenetic techniques and mouse genetics now offer ways to specifically probe the functional properties of neural circuits with unprecedented specificity. Perhaps one of the most heavily interrogated circuits in the mouse brain is one in the retina that is involved in coding direction (reviewed by Mauss et al., 2017; Vaney et al., 2012). In this circuit, direction is encoded by specialized direction-selective (DS) ganglion cells (DSGCs), which respond robustly to objects moving in a 'preferred' direction but not in the opposite or 'null' direction (Barlow and Levick, 1965). We now know this computation relies on the coordination of three transmitter systems: glutamate, GABA and acetylcholine (ACh). In this talk, I will discus both the 'coarse' and 'fine' aspects of the spatiotemporal organization of inhibition and excitation that are crucial for shaping directional selectivity.
Barlow, H.B., and Levick, W.R. (1965). The mechanism of directionally selective units in rabbit's retina. J Physiol 178, 477-504.
Mauss, A.S., Vlasits, A., Borst, A., and Feller, M. (2017). Visual Circuits for Direction Selectivity. Annu Rev Neurosci 40, 211-230.
Vaney, D.I., Sivyer, B., and Taylor, W.R. (2012). Direction selectivity in the retina: symmetry and asymmetry in structure and function. Nat Rev Neurosci 13, 194-208.