Antinucci P, Hindges R (2018) Orientation-Selective Retinal Circuits in Vertebrates.Front Neural Circuits 12: 11
Visual information is already processed in the retina before it is transmitted to higher visual centers in the brain. This includes the extraction of salient features from visual scenes, such as motion directionality or contrast, through neurons belonging to distinct neural circuits. Some retinal neurons are tuned to the orientation of elongated visual stimuli. Such 'orientation-selective' neurons are present in the retinae of most, if not all, vertebrate species analyzed to date, with species-specific differences in frequency and degree of tuning. In some cases, orientation-selective neurons have very stereotyped functional and morphological properties suggesting that they represent distinct cell types. In this review, we describe the retinal cell types underlying orientation selectivity found in various vertebrate species, and highlight their commonalities and differences. In addition, we discuss recent studies that revealed the cellular, synaptic and circuit mechanisms at the basis of retinal orientation selectivity. Finally, we outline the significance of these findings in shaping our current understanding of how this fundamental neural computation is implemented in the visual systems of vertebrates.