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Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Despite being one of the most well studied neural circuits in the central nervous system, there is still much that we do not know about how retinal neurons assemble into precise networks during development and process visual information at maturity. My thesis focuses on these topics and is divided into three projects dealing with different aspects of retinal development and function. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the structure, function, and development of the retina. In Chapter 2, I investigate how contrast encoding by retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) changes as a function of ambient light levels. Using multielectrode arrays, I record from hundreds of RGCs as they respond to light stimuli at five different luminances (scotopic — photopic range), and identify three functional types of RGCs that have a unique response property. In Chapter 3, I investigate the role of a leucine-rich repeat domain-containing transmembrane protein in the development of the retina. Through morphological analysis of rod bipolar cells (RBCs), I discover that it affects the establishment of RBC synaptic ribbons. In Chapter 4, I investigate the role of light-evoked activity in the development of horizontal cells in the retina, using transgenic lines that prevent either rod or cone photoreceptors from responding to light stimulation. Chapter 5 contains my concluding thoughts and future directions.
Chair and Committee
Shiming Chen, Joseph Corbo, Vladimir Kefalov, Peter Lukasiewicz
Pearson, James T., "Development and Function of the Murine Retina" (2016). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 882.
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