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Early light refines the brain's circuitry for vision
Date:6/5/2011

assess the effect of light on retinal waves, Renna used electrodes to record the activity of cells in the inner retinas of newborn mice, first recording in the dark, then in the light, and then again in the dark. In every case retinas experienced waves, but when the retinas were exposed to light, the waves lasted about 50 percent longer.

Renna then tested whether the light-sensitive cells were really creating this wave-lengthening effect by repeating the study in "knock-out" mice in which the ability of the ipRGCs to sense light had been genetically abolished. With the cells disabled, exposure to light no longer made any difference in the duration of the waves.

Finally, to assess the effect of light on the left-right sorting process in the dLGN, Renna examined the tissues from normal mice and the mice whose ipRGCs couldn't sense light. In each case he fluorescently labeled the nerve endings from one eye red and the other green. A computer comparison of the tissues showed that the normal mice developed a higher degree of segregation between red and green than the knockout mice. In other words, the ability of ipRGCs to sense light improved sorting out one eye from another in the dLGN.

Twinkling tadpoles

In his study, Aizenman collaborated with Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering and physics, to investigate the function of in the optic tectum of tadpole brains. They flooded the tectal neurons in live tadpoles with a molecule that makes calcium ions fluoresce. As whole networks of neurons became active, they'd take in the ions and glow. The researchers recorded the tadpoles with a high-resolution, high-speed camera that could capture the millisecond-to-millisecond activity of the neurons.

Led in the lab by engineering graduate student Heng Xu, the lead author, and postdoctoral researcher Arseny Khakhalin, the team reared some young tadpoles under normal conditions of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness durin
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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