The first stage of cardinal direction selectivity is localized to the dendrites of retinal ganglion cells
Inferring the direction of image motion is a fundamental component of visual computation and essential for visually guided behavior. In the retina, the direction of image motion is computed in four cardinal directions, but it is not known at which circuit location along the flow of visual information the cardinal direction selectivity first appears. We recorded the concerted activity of the neuronal circuit elements of single direction-selective (DS) retinal ganglion cells at subcellular resolution by combining GCaMP3-functionalized transsynaptic viral tracing and two-photon imaging. While the visually evoked activity of the dendritic segments of the DS cells were direction selective, direction-selective activity was absent in the axon terminals of bipolar cells. Furthermore, the glutamate input to DS cells, recorded using a genetically encoded glutamate sensor, also lacked direction selectivity. Therefore, the first stage in which extraction of a cardinal motion direction occurs is the dendrites of DS cells.