We have explored the manner in which the population of retinal ganglion cells collectively represent the visual world. Ganglion cells in the salamander were recorded simultaneously with a multielectrode array during stimulation with both artificial and natural visual stimuli, and the mutual information that single cells and pairs of cells conveyed about the stimulus was estimated. We found significant redundancy between cells spaced as far as 500 μm apart. When we used standard methods for defining functional types, only ON-type and OFF-type cells emerged as truly independent information channels. Although the average redundancy between nearby cell pairs was moderate, each ganglion cell shared information with many neighbors, so that visual information was represented ∼10-fold within the ganglion cell population. This high degree of retinal redundancy suggests that design principles beyond coding efficiency may be important at the population level.
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