Post-photoreceptoral activity dominates primate photopic 32-Hz ERG for sine-, square-, and pulsed stimuli

Mineo Kondo, Paul A. Sieving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To evaluate the relative contributions of photoreceptors and postphotoreceptoral activity to the primate 32-Hz flicker electroretinogram (ERG) elicited by sine-wave, square-wave, and pulse stimuli. METHODS. Flicker 32-Hz ERGs were evoked from four adult rhesus (Macaca mulatta) monkeys using sine-wave, square-wave, and 4-ms pulse trains and xenon photostrobe flicker stimuli. All stimuli had time-averaged luminance of 2.11 log cd/m2 and were presented on a 1.63-log cd/m2 white background. Intravitreal injections of DL-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (APB) and cis-2,3-piperidinedicarboxylic acid (PDA) were given to block activity of ON- and OFF-bipolar cells, respectively. RESULTS. Flicker harmonic analysis showed that the fundamental frequency component provided nearly 75% of the sine-wave and square-wave ERGs versus 63% for 4-ms pulse stimuli and only 49% for strobe flicker. Strobe-flicker responses contained the greatest contribution from higher harmonic components. Removing the ON component with APB increased the fundamental component's amplitudes by more than 30% with sine-wave and square-wave ERGs but had a lesser effect on responses to 4-ms pulses and strobe flicker. When cone responses were isolated by synaptic blockade with APB+PDA, the fundamental component's amplitude was reduced to less than 20% of control for all four stimuli. Postsynaptic ON and OFF components were characterized by amplitude and phase vectors, and sine-wave and square-wave stimuli gave a large phase difference (138°) between ON and OFF components, which resulted in greater response self-cancellation than with the 4-ms pulse train (121° phase difference) or for strobe flicker (118°). CONCLUSIONS. The major decrease in flicker responses after photoreceptor synaptic blockade implicates a major contribution from postphotoreceptoral activity to the fundamental flicker component, regardless of the stimulus type. Sine-wave and square-wave stimuli produced larger phase differences between ON- and OFF-pathway components, thereby causing more complete self-cancellation of postphotoreceptoral contributions and revealing slightly greater relative contribution directly from cone photoreceptors with these stimuli than with pulsed stimuli. The direct cone contribution was always small, however, and the clinical point is that 32-Hz flicker ERG amplitudes do not provide an unambiguous assessment of direct cone photoreceptor contribution with any of these stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2500-2507
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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