Experimental eye research

Characteristics of period doubling in the rat cone flicker ERG.

PMID 19840785


When the eye is stimulated by a flickering light, the electroretinogram (ERG) and other electrophysiological responses in the visual pathway often exhibit period doubling. This phenomenon is manifested as an alternation in the shape of the response waveform from cycle to cycle, and also as spectral components at the half-fundamental frequency (F/2) and its odd multiples. Although period doubling has been described in humans as well as in other animals, its features in the rodent flicker ERG have not been characterized. We investigated the properties of period doubling in the rat cone flicker ERG elicited with full field, sinusoidal photic stimuli. Period doubling was observed when the temporal frequency of the stimulus was in the range of 20-30 Hz. The F/2 component of the Fourier spectrum of the ERG was more pronounced than its odd harmonics. The magnitude of the cycle-to-cycle variation in amplitude differed depending on whether measurements were based on peak-to-trough or trough-to-peak amplitudes, owing to the relative phase relationship between F/2 and F as a function of stimulus frequency. The frequency-response characteristics of period doubling varied with stimulus contrast, such that reducing the contrast shifted the peak F/2 amplitude to a lower stimulus frequency. Period doubling was evident in rat eyes in which PDA was administered intravitreally, indicating that the phenomenon can occur independently of OFF pathway activity in the rat retina. The period doubling properties we observed in the flicker ERG response of the rat cone system provide constraints on the nature of the nonlinear feedback mechanism presumed to underlie the period doubling phenomenon.