Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are thought to be strictly postsynaptic within the retina. They carry visual signals from the eye to the brain, but do not make chemical synapses onto other retinal neurons. Nevertheless, they form gap junctions with other RGCs and amacrine cells, providing possibilities for RGC signals to feed back into the inner retina. Here we identified such feedback circuitry in the salamander and mouse retinas. First, using biologically inspired circuit models, we found mutual inhibition among RGCs of the same type. We then experimentally determined that this effect is mediated by gap junctions with amacrine cells. Finally, we found that this negative feedback lowers RGC visual response gain without affecting feature selectivity. The principal neurons of the retina therefore participate in a recurrent circuit much as those in other brain areas, not being a mere collector of retinal signals, but are actively involved in visual computations.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience