W. Rowland Taylor

413 Minor Hall Addition
(510) 643-8459
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AFFILIATIONS Professor of Vision Science and Optometry

Visual Neuroscience

The retina is the front-end of the visual system. It converts the image focussed onto the back of the eye into trains of electrical impulses within the optic nerve fibres. The neural traffic within the optic nerve represents the total information available for the brain to construct our internal representation of the visual world. A precise understanding of the output from the retina would place constraints on the algorithms that central visual areas could use to generate visually guided behavioural responses. To improve our understanding of the retinal output we target specific retinal ganglion cells for detailed analysis and ask three general questions: what information does the cell relay, how is that information extracted from the visual scene, and how does the neural circuitry adapt to maintain optimal coding under dynamic viewing conditions.

We use fluorescence imaging and immunohistochemistry to analyse the structure and connectivity of the ganglion cells, and presynaptic amacrine and bipolar cells. We use patch-clamp electrophysiology, imaging, and molecular-genetic approaches, to study synaptic basis for circuit function. The anatomical and functional data are summarized by constructing realistic computational models that can be used to further test hypotheses of circuit function and provide impetus for further investigation.

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