Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director and CEO at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, has been awarded a $2.4 million five-year grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the functional organization and development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, specifically, in the area of brain responsible for processing visual information.
Research supported by this award will provide new insights into the mechanisms that cortical circuits use to reliably encode the different types of information that form the basis for visual perception. Using novel imaging technologies to visualize the activity of single neurons in the living brain, this work will explore a newly discovered circuit that responds selectively to changes in luminance. The experiments will probe how this circuit is organized, how it interacts with circuits that process other types of information, and how it forms during early postnatal life.
The cerebral cortex is the largest and most complex area of the brain, comprising 20 billion neurons and 60 trillion synapses–a neuronal network whose proper function is critical for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition.
“The knowledge gained from the research supported by this grant will further our understanding of cortical function and development, providing insights relevant for addressing disorders that impact visual processing, and a broader range of neurological and psychiatric disorders that derive from cortical circuit alterations,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick.