The wave of first spikes provides robust spatial cues for retinal information processing

Abstract : How a population of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) encode the visual scene remains an open question. Several coding strategies have been investigated out of which two main views have emerged: considering RGCs as independent encoders or as synergistic encoders, i.e. when the concerted spiking in a RGC population carries more information than the sum of the information contained in the spiking of individual RGCs. Although the RGCs assumed as independent encode the main information, there is currently a growing body of evidence that considering RGCs as synergistic encoders provides complementary and more precise information. Based on salamander retina recordings, it has been suggested [11] that a code based on di erential spike latencies between RGC pairs could be a powerful mechanism. Here, we have tested this hypothesis in the mammalian retina. We recorded responses to stationary gratings from 469 RGCs in 5 mouse retinas. Interestingly, we did not nd any RGC pairs exhibiting clear latency correlations (presumably due to the presence of spontaneous activity), showing that individual RGC pairs do not provide su cient information in our conditions. However considering the whole RGC population, we show that the shape of the wave of rst spikes (WFS) successfully encodes for spatial cues. To quantify its coding capabilities, we performed a discrimination task and we showed that the WFS was more robust to the spontaneous ring than the absolute latencies are. We also investigated the impact of a post-processing neural layer. The recorded spikes were fed into an arti cial lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) layer. We found that the WFS is not only preserved but even re ned through the LGN-like layer, while classical independent coding strategies become impaired. These ndings suggest that even at the level of the retina, the WFS provides a reliable strategy to encode spatial cues.
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Geoffrey Portelli, John Barrett, Evelyne Sernagor, Timothée Masquelier, Pierre Kornprobst. The wave of first spikes provides robust spatial cues for retinal information processing. [Research Report] RR-8559, INRIA. 2014. ⟨hal-01019953⟩

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