Spring 2018

Brain and Computation Seminar

Apr 24, 2018 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm 

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Calvin Lab Rm 116

Neural Circuits for Visual Processing in Thalamus

The thalamus is often viewed as a gatekeeper, relaying sensory signals to the cortex during waking and halting their flow during sleep.   While true, this is an impoverished description.   Our work explores how thalamic circuits contribute to sensory processing per se.  We focus on the lateral geniculate nucleus, which conveys information from the eye downstream.  Relay cells in the geniculate make few connections with each other but are embedded in two dense inhibitory networks.   First, local Interneurons supply feedforward inhibition; second, neurons in the visual sector of thalamic reticular nucleus (a thin sheet of gabaergic cells that cloak the thalamus) provide feedback inhibition.  Specific topics include how retinogeniculate divergence and convergence, coupled with feedforward inhibition, might facilitate signal detection and enhance perceptual acuity;  potential roles of the reticular nucleus in feature detection and spatial attention; and  how input from both inhibitory circuits might alter the temporal structure of signals sent to cortex.

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