Habituation of retinal ganglion cell activity in response to steady state pattern visual stimuli in normal subjects

Vittorio Porciatti, Nancy Sorokac, William Buchser

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37 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To evaluate autoregulatoty changes of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) activity, as measured by the pattern electroretinogram (PERG), when the eye is exposed to a steady state presentation of stimuli that maximize PERG amplitude and blood flow. METHODS. The PERG was recorded from both eyes of 14 normal subjects in response to steady state presentation (4 minutes) of contrast-reversing (16.28/s) gratings (1.6 cyc/deg) with different contrast (12%-99%) and mean luminance (40-1.3 cd/m2). One temporal period of the stimulus (122.8 ms) was sampled and averaged in packets of 50 sweeps (∼15 seconds each). PERG amplitude and phase were evaluated by Discrete Fourier Transform and displayed as a function of time. Data were fitted with an exponential decay function to evaluate PERG changes with time. RESULTS. For patterns of 99% contrast, the PERG amplitude progressively decreased with time until reaching a plateau approximately 30% lower than the initial amplitude after approximately 2 minutes (habituation). The ratio between initial and plateau amplitude did not change by reducing the stimulus luminance by 1 log unit. However, reducing contrast decreased amplitude habituation. The habituation was abolished at 25% contrast. CONCLUSIONS. Decrease of PERG amplitude with time is consistent with a slow adaptive change of RGC activity in response to high-contrast, steady state stimuli. The authors propose that the initial amplitude represents an index of RGC activity, and the plateau amplitude represents a dynamic equilibrium between RGC activity and the available energy supply. These results are relevant for a better understanding of glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1302
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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