Functional mappings in the vertebrate visual system

Ian Thompson

Visiting Honorary Professor

My research has focussed on the adaptation of neurons at different levels of the visual system to the analysis of the visual world and on the development of the underlying ordered connections. Central to this circuitry are ordered maps of the visual world and I have had a long interest in the development of retinotopic maps in different species. In mouse, the ordered retinotectal map emerges gradually under the control of both molecular guidance cues and patterned neuronal activity. Using anatomical and computational techniques we have generated a rigorous quantitative description of map development, one that can simulated in computational models. Now we are manipulating the cues either individually or in combination to examine the effect on map formation in vivo and in silico. In zebrafish, an ordered map supporting functional vision is present very early but, due to mismatched growth of retina and tectum, the map must shift. Dr. Andrew Lowe has developed techniques for quantifying map precision functionally in zebrafish and we collaborate on the nature of shifting maps.