Gain control and hyperpolarization level in cat horizontal cells as a function of light and dark adaptation

W.A. Van De Grind, M.J.M. Lankheet, R.J.A. Van Wezel, M.H. Rowe, J. Hulleman

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7 Citations (Scopus)


First a model is presented that accurately summarizes the dynamic properties of cat horizontal (H-) cells under photopic conditions as measured in our previous work. The model predicts that asymmetries in response to dark as compared to light flashes are flash-duration dependent. This somewhat surprising prediction is tested and confirmed in intracellular recordings from the optically intact in vivo eye of the cat (Experiment 1). The model implies that the gain of H-cells should be related rather directly to the sustained (baseline) membrane potential. We performed three additional experiments to test this idea. Experiment 2 concerns response vs intensity (R-I-) curves for various flash-diameters and background-sizes with background luminance varying over a 4 log unit range. Results support the assumption of a rather strict coupling between flash sensitivity (gain) and the sustained level of hyperpolarization. In Experiment 3 we investigate this relation for both dark and light flashes given on each of four background light levels. The results suggest that there are fixed minimum and maximum hyperpolarization levels, and that the baseline hyperpolarization for a given illumination thus also sets the available range for dark and light flash-responses. The question then arises whether, or how this changes during dark adaptation, when the rod contribution to H-cell responses gradually increases. The fourth experiment therefore studies the relationship between gain and hyperpolarization level during prolonged dark-adaptation. The results show that the rod contribution increases the polarization range of H-cells, but that the gain and polarization level nevertheless remain directly coupled. H-cell models relying on a close coupling between polarization level and gain thus remain attractive options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3969-3985
Number of pages17
JournalVision Research
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cat retina
  • Dark adaptation
  • Horizontal cells
  • Light adaptation
  • Rod-cone interaction


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