How do neurons organize themselves into networks that see?

We study the synaptic organization of visual circuits to answer questions like: How do neural circuits organize and process information? What does an intact neural network actually look like? How do neurons figure out who to connect to? What is the gap between neural development and neural regeneration?  

Systems: We primarily study mouse retina and mouse dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN, visual thalamus). We are also looking at human retina and lizard visual system.

Techniques: Our core technique is automated serial section electron microscopy because it lets us map all the synapses, cells and circuitry in a piece of neuronal tissue.  We combine this technique with functional imaging, genetic labeling, and other approaches to determine how different patterns of synaptic connectivity relate to circuit function and dysfunction.

3DEM reconstruction of mouse dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN). Left = EM volume. Middle = Segmentation of a subset of neurons. Right = Thalamocortical cell (red) innervated by a retinal ganglion cell (gree) and tectal axon (blue). Retinal ganglion cell axon myelin is white.

Electron micrograph of the optic tract and surface of the mouse LGN

Electron micrograph of the optic tract and surface of the mouse LGN