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:8/23/2017)... , Aug. 23, 2017  The general public,s help is being enlisted ... bacteria that live in and on the human body –and are believed ... The Microbiome Immunity ... human microbiome, starting with the gut. The project's goal is to help ... credit: IBM ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead of their ... (DCA). ... launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in May at ... process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled in CLEAR ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ., ... a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with Dr. ... best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase in ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and ... lives of over 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities ... Treepex - based in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has unveiled ... bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to new ... , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking classes ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of VetStem Biopharma, Inc. ... The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was held on August ... MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., Chief of Orthopedic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: