PerspectiveNeuroscience

Dampening light sensitivity

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Science  01 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6490, pp. 471-472
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb7529

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Summary

In the eyes of vertebrates, the retina detects incoming photons of visible light and transforms them through intricate neural circuits into multiple channels of visual information that are then conveyed to the brain. Each channel is represented by the spiking activity of a specific type of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) whose axons project to one or more brain regions to support a multitude of visual functions (1). Like many other long-range projection neurons in the brain, RGCs provide excitatory inputs to their targets in the brain using the neurotransmitter glutamate (2). On page 527 of this issue, Sonoda et al. (3) describe an inhibitory channel from the eye to the brain by way of a subset of intrinsically photosensitive RGCs (ipRGCs) that release γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in mice. The authors report that the inhibitory inputs from these GABAergic ipRGCs are involved in curbing the sensitivity of certain non–image-forming behaviors and renders them resilient to minor perturbations in light level.

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