Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Hawkmoth lamina monopolar cells act as dynamic spatial filters to optimize vision at different light levels

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Science Advances  17 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 16, eaaz8645
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8645


How neural form and function are connected is a central question of neuroscience. One prominent functional hypothesis, from the beginnings of neuroanatomical study, states that laterally extending dendrites of insect lamina monopolar cells (LMCs) spatially integrate visual information. We provide the first direct functional evidence for this hypothesis using intracellular recordings from type II LMCs in the hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. We show that their spatial receptive fields broaden with decreasing light intensities, thus trading spatial resolution for higher sensitivity. These dynamic changes in LMC spatial properties can be explained by the density and lateral extent of their dendritic arborizations. Our results thus provide the first physiological evidence for a century-old hypothesis, directly correlating physiological response properties with distinctive dendritic morphology.

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