We investigated chromatic processing in the outer retina of the cichlid fish Aequidens pulcher. Intracellular recordings from cone-specific horizontal cells (CHCs) revealed that the two morphologically identified types (H1 and H2) also have different spectral responses. H1-L cells hyperpolarize to all wavelengths (“luminosity”). H2-Cb cells depolarize to long wavelengths and hyperpolarize to short wavelengths (“chromaticity”, biphasic). Furthermore, we verified by immunocytochemistry that H2-Cb cells of A. pulcher predominantly contact the middle-wavelength-sensitive (MWS) members of double cones. Developmental plasticity in the cone–CHC networks was induced by rearing fish under conditions of spectral deprivation and different levels of white light. H1-L spectral responses were unaffected by the rearing conditions. Different intensity levels of white light and deprivation of long wavelengths during rearing both induced changes in the spectral responses of H2-Cb. Deprivation of short and middle wavelengths had no effect. Our results indicate that spectral processing in the outer retina of fishes can be modulated in response to different visual experiences and suggest that developmental fine tuning of the color-vision system occurs at early levels of visual processing.
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