Arousal modulates retinal output

Posted on 2020-11-28 - 22:26 authored by Sylvia Schroeder

At various stages of the visual system, visual responses are modulated by arousal. Here we find that this modulation operates as early as in the first synapse from the retina, and even in retinal ganglion cells. To measure retinal activity in the awake brain, we imaged the synaptic boutons of retinal axons in the superior colliculus. Their activity depended not only on vision but also on running speed and pupil size, regardless of retinal illumination. Arousal typically reduced their visual responses and their selectivity for direction and orientation. Recordings from retinal axons in the optic tract revealed that arousal modulates the firing of retinal ganglion cells. Arousal had similar effects postsynaptically, in colliculus neurons, independent of activity in the other main source of visual inputs to colliculus, the primary visual cortex. These results indicate that arousal modulates activity at every stage of the visual system.

This collection contains the pre-processed data used in Schröder et al. (2020):
(1) Two-photon imaging of mouse retinal boutons in superior colliculus
(2) Two-photon imaging of neurons in mouse superior colliculus
(3) Neuropixels recording of neurons in mouse superior colliculus during control conditions and inactivation of primary visual cortex
(4) Neuropixels recording of retinal axons in the mouse optic tract

To generate the figures in Schröder et al. (2020) and to see how preprocessed data were analysed, see


Schroeder, Sylvia; Steinmetz, Nick; Krumins, Michael Krumin; Pachitariu, Marius; Rizzi, Matteo; Lagnado, Leon; et al. (2020): Arousal modulates retinal output. University College London. Collection.
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This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant BB/P003273/1 to MC and SS), by the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie program (fellowships 62387 to SS and 656528 to NAS), by the Human Frontier Sciences Program (fellowship LT001071/2015-L to NAS), by the Wellcome Trust (grants 205093 and 102264 to MC and KDH; grant 102905 to LL), and by HHMI Janelia Research Center (MP). MC holds the GlaxoSmithKline / Fight for Sight Chair in Visual Neuroscience.


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