Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 March 2009
Omitting a stimulus from a train of repetitive stimuli, by either interrupting or terminating the train, can elicit an electrophysiological response that occurs at the time appropriate for the omitted stimulus. This study investigated whether such an omitted stimulus response (OSR) is present in the flicker electroretinogram (ERG) of the human cone system. ERGs were recorded from 11 visually normal subjects in response to full-field sinusoidal flicker trains presented against a rod-desensitizing adapting field at frequencies ranging from 12.5 to 100 Hz. Recordings were synchronized with the onset of the stimulus trains, and the amplitude and relative delay of any additional ERG responses following the offset of the flicker train were analyzed. At stimulus frequencies below 35 Hz, the number of ERG responses always equaled the number of stimulus cycles. However, over the frequency range of 38.5 to 100 Hz, the ERG contained an extra response following flicker train offset. At stimulus frequencies from 38.5 to 62.5 Hz, there was a constant delay between the peak of the extra ERG response and the time at which the next stimulus would have occurred had the flicker train continued. This constant delay is characteristic of an OSR. In addition, an extra ERG response was apparent at these same stimulus frequencies if the flicker train was interrupted by omitting stimulus cycles from the middle of the train. The pattern of ERG findings is consistent with a recently proposed model of the OSR that attributes the phenomenon to a resonant oscillation in retinal bipolar cells.