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Mesopic background lights enhance dark-adapted cone ERG flash responses in the intact mouse retina: A possible role for gap junctional decoupling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2309-2318
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


The cone-driven flash responses of mouse electroretinogram (ERG) increase as much as twofold over the course of several minutes during adaptation to a rod-compressing background light. The origins of this phenomenon were investigated in the present work by recording preflash-isolated (M-)cone flash responses ex vivo in darkness and during application of various steady background lights. In this protocol, the cone stimulating flash was preceded by a preflash that maintains rods under saturation (hyperpolarized) to allow selective stimulation of the cones at varying background light levels. The light-induced growth was found to represent true enhancement of cone flash responses with respect to their darkadapted state. It developed within minutes, and its overall magnitude was a graded function of the background light intensity. The threshold intensity of cone response growth was observed with lights in the low mesopic luminance region, at which rod responses are partly compressed. Maximal effect was reached at intensities sufficient to suppress ̃90% of the rod responses. Light-induced enhancement of the cone photoresponses was not sensitive to antagonists and agonists of glutamatergic transmission. However, applying gap junction blockers to the dark-adapted retina produced qualitatively similar changes in the cone flash responses as did background light and prevented further growth during subsequent light-adaptation. These results are consistent with the idea that cone ERG photoresponses are suppressed in the dark-adapted mouse retina by gap junctional coupling between rods and cones. This coupling would then be gradually and reversibly removed by mesopic background lights, allowing larger functional range for the cone light responses.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Electroretinogram, Light adaptation, Photoreceptor, Retina, Rod-cone coupling