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Dissecting the retinal inputs to behaviorally relevant computations in the central brain


A key function of the visual system is to extract behaviourally relevant features about the visual scene from the barrage of
incoming photons. This process begins in the retina, a powerful image processer that recent studies have revealed
separates the incoming information into ~20 distinct neural representations. Within central visual brain regions specific
details of the visual scene are often neatly organized, remaining spatially segregated from each other. Despite our detailed
knowledge of how information is organized within the visual system, progress in gaining a mechanistic understanding of
how the brain is able to extract salient features from the visual scene, or how this information is used to guide behavior has
stalled. Too often each brain centre is studied in isolation, meaning the details of its inputs and function of its outputs are
frequently a point of conjecture. In particular, the input to central visual areas, despite the accumulated evidence, are
repeatedly assumed to simply be a relayed representation of the visual scene from the retina.

In order to provide mechanistic insight into how visual information is processed in central brain regions and understand how
it is used to direct behavior this proposal will delineate the inputs, originating in the retina, to specific behavioural
computations in central brain regions. This will allow us to determine which retinal channels are assigned dedicated
computational tasks and how information from the retina is recombined to highlight key aspects of the visual scene used to
direct behavior. To accomplish this conditional expression systems and trans-synaptic viral based circuit tracing will be
combined with targeted patch-clamp recording and calcium imaging to link genetically identified cell types of the retina with
behaviourally relevant computations in central brain regions. This work will provide insight into the circuit mechanisms used
by the brain to process the visual world.

Call for proposal

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Rijvisschestraat 120
9052 Zwijnaarde - Gent

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Rik Audenaert (Mr.)
EU contribution
€ 100 000