What the retina tells us about central visual processing

Time/Room: Friday, May 6, 2011, 5:00 – 6:45 pm, Royal Ballroom 4-5
Chair: Tony Movshon
Presenters: Jonathan Demb, Greg Field, Jay Neitz

This symposium was designed in conjunction with David Williams and Maarten Kamermans as part of the continuing series of exchange symposia that highlight the historical and continued shared areas of interests of VSS and ARVO. This year, the symposium is at VSS, intended to bring us some of the latest advances presented at ARVO. There will be three talks, all showcasing aspects of retinal function that are crucial for understanding central visual processing. The speakers are all experts and experienced speakers who will give excellent accounts of their important work.

Explaining receptive field properties at the level of synapses: lessons from the retina

Speaker: Jonathan Demb, University of Michigan

A visual neuron’s receptive field is generated by the combination of its unique pattern of synaptic inputs and intrinsic membrane properties. These cellular mechanisms underlying the receptive field can be studied efficiently in retinal ganglion cells, in vitro.  In this talk, I will describe recent progress in understanding the mechanisms for visual computations and adaptation in retinal circuitry.

High-resolution receptive field measurements in primate retinal ganglion cells, and their implications for color vision

Speaker: Greg Field, Salk Institute

Identifying the connectivity of the myriad neurons within a circuit is key to understanding its function.  We developed a novel technique to map the functional connectivity between thousands of cone photoreceptors and hundreds of ganglion cells in the primate retina.  These measurements reveal the nature of cone sampling by midget ganglion cells, providing insight to the origins of red-green color opponency.

The effect of genetic manipulation of the photopigments on vision and the implications for the central processing of color

Speaker: Jay Neitz, University of Washington

The processes responsible for color perception are accessible experimentally because of a wealth of genetic variations and because some components lend themselves to genetic manipulation. The addition of an opsin gene, as occurred in the evolution of color vision, and has been done experimentally produces expanded capacities providing insight into the neural circuitry.