The slow PIII component of the electroretinogram (ERG) was studied in the isolated, aspartate-treated carp retina. Although the latter is richly populated with cones, slow PIII appeared to reflect almost exclusively the activity of rods; e.g. the spectral sensitivity of the potential paralleled closely the rod pigment curve, its operating range (i.e. the V-log I curve) was limited to 3 log units above absolute threshold, and raising background intensities to photopic levels produced saturation of the increment threshold function without evidence of a cone-mediated segment. Only after bleaching away a significant fraction of the porphyropsin was it possible to unmask a small photopic contribution to slow PIII, as evidenced by a displacement in the action spectrum to longer wavelengths. The spatial distribution of the slow PIII voltage within the retina (Faber, D.S. 1969. Ph.D. Thesis. State University of New York. Buffalo, N.Y.; Witkovsky, P.J. Nelson, and H. Ripps. 1973. J. Gen Physiol. 61:401) and its ability to survive aspartate treatment indicate that this potential arises in the Müller (glial) fiber. Additional support for this conclusion is provided by the slow rise time (several seconds) and long temporal integration (up to 40s) of the response. In many respects the properties of slow PIII resemble those of the c-wave, a pigment epithelial response also subserved by rod activity. On the other hand, the receptoral (fast PIII) and the b-wave components of the ERG behave quite differently. Unlike slow PIII, response saturation could not be induced, since both potentials are subserved by cones when the stimulus conditions exceed the limits of the scotopic range. Receptors appear to govern light adaptation at photopic background levels; both fast PIII and b-wave manifest identical incremental threshold values over this range of intensities. However, under scotopic conditions, the sensitivity of the b-wave is affected by luminous backgrounds too weak to alter fast PIII threshold, indicating a postreceptoral stage of adaptation.

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