A Caltech Library Service

Computations in the vertebrate retina: gain enhancement, differentiation and motion discrimination

Koch, Christof and Poggio, Tomaso and Torre, Vincent (1986) Computations in the vertebrate retina: gain enhancement, differentiation and motion discrimination. Trends in Neurosciences, 9 . pp. 204-211. ISSN 0166-2236. doi:10.1016/0166-2236(86)90060-3.

PDF (Report submitted to MIT based on published version) - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


An understanding of brain function will ultimately require an understanding of the elementary information processing operations performed by synapses, membranes and neurons. Such knowledge, in addition to its intrinsic interest, will be instrumental for a full comprehension of the algorithms and computational procedures used by the brain to solve visual and other perceptual problems. The vertebrate retina is a very attractive model system for approaching the question of the information processing role of biological mechanisms of nerve cells. The retina provides the visual input to the brain and is its main interface with the outside world. Its anatomy and physiology are relatively well known. We also have a fairly good idea of some of the information processing operations, i.e., the computations, performed by the retina. A complete circuit diagram of the retina is not available, but it is now possible to identify a few simple computations that the retina performs and to relate them to specific biophysical mechanisms and circuit elements on the basis of theoretical work, computer simulations and experimental data. In this paper we consider three operations carried out by most retinae: amplification, temporal differentiation and computation of the direction of motion of visual patterns.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Koch, Christof0000-0001-6482-8067
Additional Information:Copyright © 1986 Elsevier B.V. Available online 24 March 2003. This work was supported by the Sloan Foundation, by Whitaker College at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and by a grant from the Office of Naval Research, Engineering Psychology Division to TP. We acknowledge helpful discussion concerning direction selectivity with Lisa Mistler and especially Norberto Grzywacs. Frank Amthor kindly provided the data for the reconstructed cell shown in Figs 5 and 6. David Copenhagen kindly provided Fig. 1. Thanks to Linda Ardrey for drawing the figures, and to Frank Am thor, David Copenhagen and John Dowling for commenting on the manuscript.
Group:Koch Laboratory (KLAB)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Whitaker College at the Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUNSPECIFIED
Office of Naval Research, Engineering Psychology DivisionUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
AI Memo319
CBIP Paper019
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130816-103204713
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Christof Koch, Tomaso Poggio, Vincent Torre, Computations in the vertebrate retina: gain enhancement, differentiation and motion discrimination, Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 9, 1986, Pages 204-211, ISSN 0166-2236, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:40432
Deposited By: KLAB Import
Deposited On:26 Jan 2008 04:02
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:48

Repository Staff Only: item control page