Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

August 1972


Intracellular responses from receptors and postsynaptic units have been recorded in the median ocellus of the dragonfly. The receptors respond to light with a graded, depolarizing potential and a single, tetrodotoxin-sensitive impulse at "on." The postsynaptic units (ocellar nerve dendrites) hyperpolarize during illumination and show a transient, depolarizing response at "off." The light-evoked slow potential responses of the postsynaptic units are not altered by the application of tetrodotoxin to the ocellus. It appears, therefore, that the graded receptor potential, which survives the application of tetrodotoxin, is responsible for mediating synaptic transmission in the ocellus. Comparison of pre- and postsynaptic slow potential activity shows (a) longer latencies in postsynaptic units by 5–20 msec, (b) enhanced photosensitivity in postsynaptic units by 1–2 log units, and (c) more transient responses in postsynaptic units. It is suggested that enhanced photosensitivity of postsynaptic activity is a result of summation of many receptors onto the postsynaptic elements, and that transients in the postsynaptic responses are related to the complex synaptic arrangements in the ocellar plexus to be described in the following paper.


This work was originally published in The Journal of General Physiology.



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