Navigation Links
JHU biologists identify new neural pathway in eyes that aids in vision
Date:5/21/2014

A type of retina cell plays a more critical role in vision than previously known, a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers has discovered.

Working with mice, the scientists found that the ipRGCs an atypical type of photoreceptor in the retina help detect contrast between light and dark, a crucial element in the formation of visual images. The key to the discovery is the fact that the cells express melanopsin, a type of photopigment that undergoes a chemical change when it absorbs light.

"We are quite excited that melanopsin signaling contributes to vision even in the presence of functional rods and cones," postdoctoral fellow Tiffany M. Schmidt said. Schmidt is lead author of a recently published study in the journal Neuron. The senior author is Samer Hattar, associate professor of biology in the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Their findings have implications for future studies of blindness or impaired vision.

Rods and cones are the most well-known photoreceptors in the retina, activating in different light environments. Rods, of which there are about 120 million in the human eye, are highly sensitive to light and turn on in dim or low-light environments. Meanwhile the 6 million to 7 million cones in the eye are less sensitive to light; they drive vision in brighter light conditions and are essential for color detection.

Rods and cones were thought to be the only light-sensing photoreceptors in the retina until about a decade ago when scientists discovered a third type of retinal photoreceptor the ipRGC, or intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell that contains melanopsin. Those cells were thought to be needed exclusively for detecting light for non-image-dependent functions, for example, to control synchronization of our internal biological clocks to daytime and the constriction of our pupils in response to light.

"Rods and cones were thought to mediate vision and ipRGCs were thought to mediate these simple light-detecting functions that happen outside of conscious perception," Schmidt said. "But our experiments revealed that ipRGCs influence a greater diversity of behaviors than was previously known and actually contribute to an important aspect of image-forming vision, namely contrast detection."

The Johns Hopkins team along with other scientists conducted several experiments with mice and found that when melanopin was present in the retinal ganglion cells, the mice were better able to see contrast in a Y-shaped maze, known as the visual water task test. In the test, mice are trained to associate a pattern with a hidden platform that allows them to escape the water. Mice that had the melanopsin gene intact had higher contrast sensitivity than mice that lack the gene.

"Melanopsin signaling is essential for full contrast sensitivity in mouse visual functions," said Hattar. "The ipRGCs and melanopsin determine the threshold for detecting edges in the visual scene, which means that visual functions that were thought to be solely mediated by rods and cones are now influenced by this system. The next step is to determine if melanopsin plays a similar role in the human retina for image-forming visual functions."


'/>"/>
Contact: Latarsha Gatlin
lgatlin1@jhu.edu
443-997-9909
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. IU biologists offer clearer picture of how protein machine systems tweak gene expression
2. Microbiologists can now measure extremely slow life
3. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
4. Penn biologists identify a key enzyme involved in protecting nerves from degeneration
5. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
6. Biologists turn back the clock to understand evolution of sex differences
7. Double the pain: RUB biologists find the cause of pain in the treatment of fair skin cancer
8. UCLA biologists reveal potential fatal flaw in iconic sexual selection study
9. New book on stereology by Mark West is essential reading for neurobiologists
10. SF State biologists tag zombees to track their flight
11. Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, 1 piece at a time
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 ... just announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication ... exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These ... smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group and ... finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... SANTA MONICA, Calif. , April 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... New York will feature emerging and ... Innovation Summits. Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the ... variety of speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on ... east coast,s largest advanced design and manufacturing event will ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   NXTD ... the appointment of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. Richards ... of Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , Chief ... to their guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased to announce that its Charm ... appropriate as a screening test at dairies and farms for raw commingled cow milk. ... Charm EZ Lite system. These systems are a combination incubator and reader in one. ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 20, 2017 , ... Biologist Dawn ... men. While researching her latest book, Men Chase, Women Choose: The Neuroscience of Meeting, ... love has a physiological effect on men. ”The logical next step, in my estimation, ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... Pa. , June 20, 2017  Kibow Biotech ... pleased to announce the issuance of a new patent ... or hyperuricemia by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ... a winner of the Buzz of Bio award in ... is akin to developing non-drug approaches to chronic disease. ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... June 20, 2017 , ... Do More with OHAUS , With ... a trusted supplier in the weighing industry, to extending its expertise across the entire ... reactions, immunoassays, hybridizations and more, allowing for its customers to 'Do More' ...
Breaking Biology Technology: