We have studied the responses to light, conduction down the axons, and anatomical projections of the photoreceptors of the lateral eye in the giant barnacle, Balanus nubilus. By recording intracellularly from ganglion cells that respond to visual input, we have described convergence of the lateral and median visual pathways. Each lateral eye contains three photoreceptor cells, two large and one small. Cobalt filling of single large lateral receptor axons demonstrated that they end in a restricted ovoid bush on the ipsilateral side of the ganglion in approximately the same region in which the median receptors arborize. The lateral receptors have dark resting potentials and responses to light similar to those previously described for the receptors of the median eye. Like the median receptors, the lateral receptors conduct visual signals decrementally, although their axons may be twice as long (14-25 mm). Passing current of either polarity into either of the large receptors produced no detectable voltage change in the other cell. Action potentials elicited in either cell by stimulating it in the presence of tetraethylammonium ion were not detected in the other cell. Light-induced membrane noise in one cell did not correlate with noise in the other. Thus, like the receptors of the median eye, the large receptors of the lateral eye are not electrically coupled. By shadowing each ocellus individually, we have shown that the signals from the median and lateral photoreceptors converge at the level of the second-order cells described for the median pathway. Shadowing the median or a lateral eye gave rise to synergistic responses in second-, third-, and all higher order ganglion cells studied. No cells were found that were driven solely by the lateral eyes. Thus, the lateral and median visual pathways are highly convergent.
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