Visual Neuroscience

Visual neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that has made fundamental contributions to cellular, developmental, and systems neuroscience. Although most of us take vision for granted, in fact it arises from a complex network of highly specialized neurons in both the retina and central nervous system. With our aging population, vision loss and blindness are becoming an increasing health care problem. According to the National Eye Institute (2015), it is estimated that one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by age 65. The most common cause of reduced or lost vision include macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. Each of these disease affects millions of individuals. Over 22 million individuals in the U.S. have cataracts. Glaucoma alone results in vision loss in 2.3 million Americans.  With the aging of the populations, these number continue to grow causing significant loss to the quality of life as well as significant health care costs.

The University of Minnesota has a large, diverse vision research community, with strong representation in many experimental approaches. Research efforts across the visual system from the retina and control of eye movements to higher cortical levels include: neuronal signals underlying visually guided behaviors with a focus on cortical signaling; vision in reading, object recognition, and spatial navigation focusing on low vision; molecular mechanisms behind common childhood eye movement disorders; mechanisms of synaptic transmission in the retina; physiology of glial cells and control of blood flow in normal and diabetic retina; vision, cognition and visual plasticity; dynamics of binocular rivalry, pattern, and motion adaptation; computational approaches to understanding vision perception; ion channels and their role in glial cell function; structure and function of intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cells in the mammalian retina; functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy to understand metabolic changes in cortex associated with neuronal processing; development of retina, cell fate, and refinement of connections; development of neuronal connections in the thalamus and cortex; using visual psychophysics and fMRI to understand brain control of visual perception; human and computer vision and integration of vision and motor control; and visual guidance of action.

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