Information capture by photoreceptors ultimately limits the quality of visual processing in the brain. Using conventional sharp microelectrodes, we studied how locust photoreceptors encode random (white-noise, WN) and naturalistic (1/f stimuli, NS) light patterns in vivo and how this coding changes with mean illumination and ambient temperature. We also examined the role of their plasma membrane in shaping voltage responses. We found that brightening or warming increase and accelerate voltage responses, but reduce noise, enabling photoreceptors to encode more information. For WN stimuli, this was accompanied by broadening of the linear frequency range. On the contrary, with NS the signaling took place within a constant bandwidth, possibly revealing a 'preference' for inputs with 1/f statistics. The faster signaling was caused by acceleration of the elementary phototransduction current--leading to bumps--and their distribution. The membrane linearly translated phototransduction currents into voltage responses without limiting the throughput of these messages. As the bumps reflected fast changes in membrane resistance, the data suggest that their shape is predominantly driven by fast changes in the light-gated conductance. On the other hand, the slower bump latency distribution is likely to represent slower enzymatic intracellular reactions. Furthermore, the Q(10)s of bump duration and latency distribution depended on light intensity. Altogether, this study suggests that biochemical constraints imposed upon signaling change continuously as locust photoreceptors adapt to environmental light and temperature conditions.
Faivre, O., & Juusola, M. (2008). Visual coding in locust photoreceptors. PLoS ONE, 3(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0002173