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Functional analysis of the zebrafish visual system

Martin Meyer

Martin Meyer


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The Meyer lab uses larval zebrafish as a model for studying the formation and function of neural circuits, focussing on the visual system. The brain of larval zebrafish is small, containing less than 100,000 neurons, but nevertheless supports a rich repertoire of visually driven behaviours. Furthermore, because larvae are translucent the entire volume of the brain can be imaged non-invasively and with single neuron resolution. We use in vivo functional imaging of transgenic zebrafish larvae expressing genetically encoded reporters of neural activity to study the structure and function of the brain at multiple spatial scales- from individual neurons to the entire brain with the aim of understanding how information is encoded by populations of neurons, how the brain constructs sensory representations and how, once formed, these representations guide behaviour.

A recent avenue of research is to use the techniques described above to understand how the formation and function of neural circuits is perturbed in zebrafish models of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and epilepsy. To characterise these models we use a battery of behavioural tests to study everything from locomotor function to social interactions. To complement these behavioural assays we use whole-brain functional imaging using light sheet microscopy to provide circuit and systems level explanations for behavioural phenotypes.

Selected publications

Nikolaou N, Meyer MP (2015) Lamination Speeds the Functional Development of Visual Circuits. Neuron 88: 999-1013
Hunter PR, Lowe AS, Thompson ID, Meyer MP (2013) Emergent properties of the optic tectum revealed by population analysis of direction and orientation selectivity. J Neurosci 33: 13940-5
Walker AS, Burrone J, Meyer MP (2013) Functional imaging in the zebrafish retinotectal system using RGECO. Front Neural Circuits 7: 34
Nikolaou N, Lowe AS, Walker AS, Abbas F, Hunter PR, Thompson ID, Meyer MP (2012) Parametric functional maps of visual inputs to the tectum. Neuron 76: 317-324