ACTIVITY-DEPENDENT AXON REFINEMENT IN THE FERRET VISUAL SYSTEM
My laboratory investigates the role of early neural activity in the development of visual circuits in the ferret. Many processes in visual system development occur postnatally in ferrets. It is currently unknown how these activity-dependent processes leads to the maturation of individual neurons that comprise a visual circuit and how different visual areas in the brain develop.
Approach: We study the projection of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) to study how activity affects the pattern of axon termination both functionally and anatomically. The ferret dLGN contains two major layers, the A and C laminas, which receive different visual inputs. Using single electrode electrophysiology and novel Brainbow cell labeling methods with or without disrupting early retinal activity, we compare receptive field properties and morphological features during development.
Impact: These studies will contribute to understanding how different visual channels come to function properly eventually leading to the perception of sight. Our investigations have the potential to provide important insights into early visual defects as manipulating activity patterns may provide helpful and safe treatments.