Recording simultaneously from essentially all of the relevant neurons in a local circuit is crucial to understand how they collectively represent information. Here we show that the combination of a large, dense multielectrode array and a novel, mostly automated spikesorting algorithm allowed us to record simultaneously from a highly overlapping population of >200 ganglion cells in the salamander retina. By combining these methods with labeling and imaging, we showed that up to 95% of the ganglion cells over the area of the array were recorded. By measuring the coverage of visual space by the receptive fields of the recorded cells, we concluded that our technique captured a neural population that forms an essentially complete representation of a region of visual space. This completeness allowed us to determine the spatial layout of different cell types as well as identify a novel group of ganglion cells that responded reliably to a set of naturalistic and artificial stimuli but had no measurable receptive field. Thus, our method allows unprecedented access to the complete neural representation of visual information, a crucial step for the understanding of population coding in sensory systems.
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