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The directional selectivity of retinal ganglion cell responses represents a primitive
pattern recognition that operates within a retinal neural circuit. The cellular origin
and mechanism of directional selectivity were investigated by selectively eliminating
retinal starburst amacrine cells, using immunotoxin-mediated cell targeting techniques.
Starburst cell ablation in the adult retina abolished not only directional selectivity
of ganglion cell responses but also an optokinetic eye reflex derived by stimulus
movement. Starburst cells therefore serve as the key element that discriminates the
direction of stimulus movement through integrative synaptic transmission and play
a pivotal role in information processing that stabilizes image motion.