Often found in the retina, bipolar cells are crucial as they serve as both direct and indirect cell pathways. The specific location of the bipolar cells allow them to facilitate the passage of signals from where they start in the receptors to where they arrive at the amacrine and ganglion cells. Bipolar cells in the retina are also unusual in that they do not fire impulses like the other cells found within the nervous system. Rather, they pass the information by graded signal changes. Bipolar cells come in two varieties, having either an on-center or an off-center receptive field, each with a surround of the opposite sign. The off-center bipolar cells have excitatory synaptic connections with the photoreceptors, which fire continuously in the dark and are hyperpolarized (suppressed) by light. The excitatory synapses thus convey a suppressive signal to the off-center bipolar cells. On-center bipolar cells have inhibitory synapses with the photoreceptors and therefore are excited by light and suppressed in the dark.
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