Early Visual System

The overall goal of our lab is to understand how complex visual scenes are represented in the central nervous system.  Our current understanding of the brain suggests that basic features of images are represented in primary visual cortex (Area 17) and that more abstract aspects of the scene like illusory contours or differences in texture are represented in higher cortical areas based on the output of Area 17.  For example, neurons in Area 17 would detect the edges of the floral rug and the pattern of the flower weave, but higher cortical areas extract the shape of the toy hidden under the rug.  While the classical model of brain organization suggest that the higher cortical areas build their representation from the simple representation in the primary visual cortex, it is possible that many of the abstractions are encoded much earlier in the visual system (in the retina or the lateral geniculate nucleus [LGN]).  This possibility has been ignored because it is assumed that abstraction is too complex for anything but cerebral cortex.  The proposed experiments challenge this assumption, and ask whether the pro9perties of the neurons before cortex make them able to extract behaviorally important information from a scene.  Specifically, the proposed research will use targeted microelectrode recordings to determine if and how neurons in the LGN encode a particular class of abstract image features known as second-order image features.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…