- Biomedical Engineering
AHSC Room 4109
The broad goal of research in my laboratory is to understand how inhibitory inputs influence neuronal signaling and sensory signal processing in the retina. Neurons in the brain receive inputs that are both excitatory, increasing neural activity, and inhibitory, decreasing neural activity. Inhibitory and excitatory inputs to neurons must be properly balanced and timed for correct neural signaling to occur.
The synaptic factors that tune inhibition vary widely over the nervous system, but the relative importance of these factors in determining brain activity is not well understood. I am interested in how inhibition shapes sensory neuronal signaling. This requires understanding aspects of both synaptic and sensory physiology.
To study sensory inhibition I use the retina, a unique preparation which can be removed intact and can be activated physiologically, with light, in vitro. Thus using the retina as a model system, I can study how inhibitory synaptic physiology influences inhibition in visual processing.
By studying synaptic processing in the retina I can understand how light information is processed into the visual signal that our brain senses. Additionally, we can use information about how the healthy retina works to determine how disease states, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, cause retinal dysfunction. Ultimately, understanding which neurons fail to function properly and why can help to restore sight.