The long-term objective of our research is to understand visual signaling by the primate retina, and to exploit this knowledge in the treatment of blindness. The goal of the proposed work is to understand three fundamental aspects of visual signaling in the major ganglion cell types of the retina, which convey distinct visual signals to multiple targets in the brain.
The specific aims are to explore (1) how the elementary signal for daylight vision, the activation of a single cone, propagates through parallel pathways to the distinct ganglion cell types; (2) the spatial structure and origin of nonlinear visual computations performed in the inner retinal circuitry; (3) the organization and function of polyaxonal amacrine cells which modulate visual signals in ganglion cells. To approach these problems, we will exploit our unique large-scale multi- electrode recordings from isolated primate retina to sample complete visual signals in the major 5 ganglion cell types (ON parasol, OFF parasol, ON midget, OFF midget, and small bistratified), which collectively constitute 75% of the visual representation. We will also extend this unique experimental approach with three novel techniques: independent stimulation of each of the cone photoreceptors over a large region of retina, advanced statistical analysis to uncover the spatial structure of nonlinear computations at the resolution of individual cones, and electrical imaging to record from several types of amacrine cells simultaneously with ganglion cells. At the completion of this work we hope to have a deeper understanding of how cone signals, transmitted through the parallel pathways, are combined, processed and modulated in the parallel circuits of the primate retina.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of our work is to understand the visual functioning of the retina; by using innovative large-scale and high-resolution experimental approaches to probe the parallel neural circuits that transmit visual signals to different targets in the brain. In the proposed work; we will probe how signals from individual photoreceptor cells flow through retinal circuits; and how neurons in the inner retina modulate the photoreceptor signals for visual function. We expect these studies to significantly advance our understanding of how the retina signals visual information to the brain; contributing to efforts in our lab and others to design advanced retinal prostheses to treat blindness.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDPE-J (09))
Program Officer
Greenwell, Thomas
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Stanford University
United States
Zip Code
Ravi, Sneha; Ahn, Daniel; Greschner, Martin et al. (2018) Pathway-Specific Asymmetries between ON and OFF Visual Signals. J Neurosci 38:9728-9740
Greschner, Martin; Heitman, Alexander K; Field, Greg D et al. (2016) Identification of a Retinal Circuit for Recurrent Suppression Using Indirect Electrical Imaging. Curr Biol 26:1935-1942
Li, Peter H; Gauthier, Jeffrey L; Schiff, Max et al. (2015) Anatomical identification of extracellularly recorded cells in large-scale multielectrode recordings. J Neurosci 35:4663-75
Freeman, Jeremy; Field, Greg D; Li, Peter H et al. (2015) Mapping nonlinear receptive field structure in primate retina at single cone resolution. Elife 4:
Li, Peter H; Field, Greg D; Greschner, Martin et al. (2014) Retinal representation of the elementary visual signal. Neuron 81:130-9
Greschner, Martin; Field, Greg D; Li, Peter H et al. (2014) A polyaxonal amacrine cell population in the primate retina. J Neurosci 34:3597-606
Ala-Laurila, Petri; Greschner, Martin; Chichilnisky, E J et al. (2011) Cone photoreceptor contributions to noise and correlations in the retinal output. Nat Neurosci 14:1309-16
Gauthier, Jeffrey L; Field, Greg D; Sher, Alexander et al. (2009) Uniform signal redundancy of parasol and midget ganglion cells in primate retina. J Neurosci 29:4675-80
Gauthier, Jeffrey L; Field, Greg D; Sher, Alexander et al. (2009) Receptive fields in primate retina are coordinated to sample visual space more uniformly. PLoS Biol 7:e1000063
Field, Greg D; Sher, Alexander; Gauthier, Jeffrey L et al. (2007) Spatial properties and functional organization of small bistratified ganglion cells in primate retina. J Neurosci 27:13261-72