Horizontal cell sensitivity in the cat retina during prolonged dark adaptation

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of dark adaptation on the response properties of ganglion cells have been documented extensively in the cat retina. To pinpoint the different retinal mechanisms that underlie these effects, we studied the response characteristics of cat horizontal (H) cells during prolonged dark adaptation. H-cell responses were recorded intracellularly in the optically intact, in vivo eye. To disentangle rod and cone contributions, sensitivity changes during dark adaptation were tracked with white light and with monochromatic lights that favored either rod or cone excitation. Stable, long-lasting recordings allowed us to measure changes of sensitivity for adaptation periods up to 45 min. Thresholds for white light and 503-nm monochromatic light decreased steadily and in parallel. The maximum increase of sensitivity, after extinguishing a photopic adaptation light, was 1.8 log units only, reached after about 35 min. Sensitivity for 581-nm lights also increased steadily, but at a shallower slope. The steady increase of sensitivity was concomitant with a linear shift in resting membrane potential and with an increase in relative rod contribution to the threshold responses. Even though small-amplitude responses were rod dominated after prolonged dark adaptation, sensitivity to rod signals remained relatively low, compared to sensitivity of cone responses or to the absolute sensitivity of ganglion cells. This suggests that the cone-H-cell pathway plays no role in the dark-adapted cat retina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-896
Number of pages12
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cat retina
  • Dark adaptation
  • Horizontal cell
  • Rod and cone input

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