Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Ralf Wessel


Feedback pathways are widely present in various sensory systems transmitting time-delayed and partly-processed information from higher to lower visual centers. Although feedback loops are abundant in visual systems, investigations focusing on the mechanisms and roles of feedback in terms of micro-circuitry and system dynamics have been largely ignored. Here, we investigate the cellular, synaptic and circuit level properties of a cholinergic isthmic neuron: Ipc) to understand the role of isthmotectal feedback loop in visual processing of red-ear turtles, Trachemys scripta elegans. Turtle isthmotectal complex contains two distinct nuclei, Ipc and Imc, which interact exclusively with the optic tectum, but are otherwise isolated from other brain areas. The cholinergic Ipc neurons receive topographic glutamatergic inputs from tectal SGP neurons and project back to upper tectal layers in a topographic manner while GABAergic Imc neurons, which also get inputs from the SGP neurons project back non-topographically to both the tectum and Ipc nucleus. We have used an isolated eye-attached whole-brain preparation for our investigations of turtle isthmotectal feedback loop. We have investigated the cellular properties of the Ipc neurons by whole-cell blind-patch recordings and found that all Ipc neurons exhibit tonic firing responses to somatic current injections that are well-modeled by a leaky integrate-and-fire neuron with spike rate adaptation. Further investigations reveal that the optic nerve stimulations generate balanced excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents in the Ipc neurons. We have also found that synaptic connection between the Imc to Ipc neuron is inhibitory. The visual response properties of the Ipc neurons to a range of computer-generated stimuli are investigated using extracellular recordings. We have found that the Ipc neurons have a localized excitatory receptive field and show stimulus selectivity and stimulus-size tuning. We also investigate lateral interactions in the Ipc neurons in response to multiple stimuli within the visual field. Finally, we quantify the oscillatory bursts observed in Ipc responses under visual stimulations.


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