Unraveling a complex world of neuronal connections

2011

Challenge

Neurons have always appeared to be somewhat haphazardly wired together, yet their complex connectivity forms the basis of all neural circuits, whether in the brain, auditory tissues, or the retina of the eye, suggesting the process must have some degree of specificity.

Advance

IRP researchers led by Kevin Briggman, Ph.D., used new technologies, such as two-photon calcium imaging and serial block-face electron microscopy, to thoroughly visualize the neuronal circuitry used by the eye to detect motion.

Impact

The group’s findings demonstrate that neuronal wiring in the retina is far more structured than initially thought, providing a basis for new neuronal models of development and disease, which could eventually lead to techniques for repairing damaged neuronal networks.

Publications

Briggman KL, Helmstaedter M, Denk W. (2011). Wiring specificity in the direction-selectivity circuit of the retina. Nature. 471(7337), 183-8.