For most animals including humans, vision is the dominant sense and a large fraction of the brains computational power is devoted to processing the incoming stream of visual information. This already starts in the eye. Here, unlike a simple camera, the retina extensively processes the visual input by extracting separate information channels like contrast, motion or edges. In my lab, we seek to understand how this disassembly of a complex visual input stream is performed by retinal circuits using two-photon population calcium and glutamate imaging in the ex-vivo mouse retina.
For example, we have recently investigated how color – a distinct visual feature – arises within the retinal network by recording light responses to colored stimuli all the way from photoreceptors to the retinal output. This revealed that neural circuits in the mouse retina are exquisitely tuned to extract color information from the upper visual field (Szatko, Korympidou et al. 2019), where it might aid robust detection of aerial predators and ensure the animal´s survival. Interestingly, our findings may explain recent behavioral data (Denman et al. 2018), demonstrating that mice are better at discriminating light spots of different colors in the upper compared to the lower visual field.