The temporal structure of the inner retina at a single glance

Abstract

The retina decomposes visual stimuli into parallel channels that encode different features of the visual environment. Central to this computation is the synaptic processing in a dense layer of neuropil, the so-called inner plexiform layer (IPL). Here, different types of bipolar cells stratifying at distinct depths relay the excitatory feedforward drive from photoreceptors to amacrine and ganglion cells. Current experimental techniques for studying processing in the IPL do not allow imaging the entire IPL simultaneously in the intact tissue. Here, we extend a two-photon microscope with an electrically tunable lens allowing us to obtain optical vertical slices of the IPL, which provide a complete picture of the response diversity of bipolar cells at a “single glance”. The nature of these axial recordings additionally allowed us to isolate and investigate batch effects, i.e. inter-experimental variations resulting in systematic differences in response speed. As a proof of principle, we developed a simple model that disentangles biological from experimental causes of variability and allowed us to recover the characteristic gradient of response speeds across the IPL with higher precision than before. Our new framework will make it possible to study the computations performed in the central synaptic layer of the retina more efficiently.

Publication
Scientific Reports