CAMBRIDGE, Mass.In work that could lead to new treatments for sensory disorders in which people experience the strange phenomena of seeing better with one eye covered, MIT researchers report that they have identified the gene responsible for binocular vision.
Unlike horses and eagles, whose eyes on the sides of their heads provide two different scenes, humans see a single, in-depth view. Now researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have identified the gene responsible for melding images from two eyes into one useful picture in the brain.
The work, which appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of the Public Library of Science (PloS) Biology and in the journal Cerebral Cortex, shows that a novel gene is necessary for binocular vision.
There are other instances in the brain where two different inputs have to be properly aligned and matchedsuch as auditory and visual projections to the midbrain that enable us to orient to sound, said lead author Mriganka Sur, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience at the Picower Institute and head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. This is the first study to pinpoint a gene with this kind of job.
Two points of view
Binocular vision allows us to perceive depth and carry out detailed visual processing. The images projected by each eye are aligned and matched up in brain regions called the visual thalamus and cortex.
The MIT researchers discovered that the genes Ten_m3 and Bcl6 have a key role in the early development of brain pathways for vision and touch. Ten_m3 appears to be critical for the brain to make sense of the two disparate images from each eye.
In mice that had the Ten_m3 gene knocked out, projections from their two eyes were mismatched in their brains. Because each eyes projection suppresses the other, the mice were blind, even though their eyes worked normally.
Remarkably, the researchers found that
|Contact: Elizabeth Thomson|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology