Morphological development of photoreceptor outer segments and synapses in the foveal region of the pigeon retina was studied by electron microscopy. In addition, the maturation of outer retina function was investigated by recording electroretinographic (ERG) responses to either flash or pattern stimuli. The first ERGs to unpatterned or patterned stimulation can be recorded at 4-6 days posthatching. These results are consistent with anatomical analysis of pigeon photoreceptor and synapse development. Indeed, photosensitive lamellae in the outer segments can be observed simultaneously with the appearance of the first retinal responses to light. A few synapses can already be seen in the outer plexiform layer at the time photoreceptor disks first appear. In contrast, numerous synapses are already present in the inner plexiform layer when photoreceptor lamellae have yet to appear. A comparable maturation mattern has been reported to occur in chicks toward the end of the incubation time.
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