Researchers are discovering new types of nerve cells in the retina


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Researchers at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah have discovered a new type of nerve cell or neuron in the retina.

In the central nervous system, a complex circuit of neurons communicates with each other to transmit sensory and motor information; so-called interneurons serve as intermediaries in the communication chain. Release in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the United States, a research team led by Ning Tian, ​​Ph.D., identifies an unprecedented type of interneuron in the mammalian retina.

The discovery marks a remarkable development for the field as researchers work towards a better understanding of the central nervous system by identifying all classes of neurons and their connections.

“Based on its morphology, physiology, and genetic characteristics, this cell does not fit into the five classes of retinal neurons that were first identified more than 100 years ago,” Tian said. “We suggest that they may belong to a new retinal neuron class alone.”

The research team named their discovery the Campana cell after its shape resembling a hand bell. Campana cells transmit visual signals from both types of light-sensitive rod and cone photoreceptors into the retina, but their exact purpose is the subject of ongoing research. Experiments showed that Campana cells remain activated for an unusually long time – as long as 30 seconds – in response to a 10 millisecond light flash stimulation.

“In the brain, persistent firing cells are thought to be involved in memory and learning,” Tian said. “Since Campana cells have a similar behavior, we theorize that they could play a role in eliciting a temporal ‘memory’ of a recent stimulation.”

The published research study is entitled “An uncommon neuron class conveys visual signals from rods and cones to retinal ganglion cells.” Authors are Brent K. Young, Charu Ramakrishnan, Tushar Ganjawala, Ping Wang, Karl Deisseroth and Ning Tian.

Various neural signals are the key to rich visual information

More information:
Brent K. Young et al., An uncommon neuron class transmitting visual signals from rods and cones to retinal ganglion cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2104884118

Provided by the University of Utah

Citation: Researchers discover new type of nerve cell in the retina (2021, November 1) retrieved November 2, 2021 from

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