The laboratory seeks to understand information processing in the retina, a model for neural network analysis. Studies focus on the events that occur at synapses, with a particular emphasis on neurotransmitter-receptor interactions. Not only the neurotransmitter type but also the properties of receptor subtypes determines how neurons communicate. Our experiments investigate this linkage using electrophysiological, molecular and cell-imaging techniques. Subjects of current interest are:
1) synaptic communication by metabotropic receptors
2) properties of glycine receptors in retina and in expression systems;
3) acetylcholine-based signal transmission;
4) image-based analysis of retinal function.
There is also a clinical application to the electroretinogram, a tool used by ophthalmologists to evaluate the health of the retina. We are able to use our knowledge of complex retinal circuits to improve the analytical potential of the electroretinogram. Transmitter-receptor interactions also form the basis for many pharmaceutical agents used to treat neurological problems. Therefore our retinal studies apply to the broad area of medicinal pharmacology.