1. Light‐evoked input‐output characteristics of ganglion cells in dark‐adapted tiger salamander retina were studied in the slice preparation using patch‐clamp techniques. Excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs), isolated by blocking inhibitory inputs and evoked by a range of light stimulus intensities, were recorded under whole‐cell voltage clamp. Spike responses, evoked by the same light intensities, were recorded extracellularly from the same cells using the cell‐attached patch‐clamp technique. 2. When N‐methyl‐D‐aspartate (NMDA) receptor‐mediated input was blocked by the competitive NMDA antagonist DL‐2‐amino‐5‐phosphonoheptanoate (AP7), light‐evoked EPSC amplitude and peak firing rate were reduced at all light intensities. In both cases, the data obtained in the presence of AP7 scaled linearly to control data, indicating that NMDA and non‐NMDA receptors are activated in the same proportions across the entire 2 log unit stimulus response range of these ganglion cells. 3. The relationship between light‐evoked spike frequency and light‐evoked EPSC amplitude was linear. The slope of the light‐evoked synaptic current‐spike frequency relationship was close to the slope of the injected current‐spike frequency relationship, indicating that synaptic current and injected current drive spiking in a similar manner. The linearity of the synaptic current‐spike frequency relationship was not compromised when NMDA input was blocked by AP7. 4. Light‐evoked voltage responses, recorded under whole‐cell current clamp, revealed that the average membrane potential during a spike response was depolarized only slightly with increased firing rate. Once the membrane potential surpassed spike threshold, it was maintained by the voltage‐gated, spike‐generating conductances at a depolarized plateau upon which action potentials were fired. The potential of this plateau varied only slightly with spike frequency. We conclude that the voltage control exerted by the spike‐generating currents in ganglion cells prevents a substantial response‐dependent decrease in the electrical driving force of the excitatory currents, obviating the need for the voltage‐independent synaptic efficacy provided by the combination of NMDA and non‐NMDA inputs.
The Journal of Physiology – Wiley
Published: Sep 15, 1995
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