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Image of the Day: Throw the Switch

A computer model of the eye can predict the consequences of altering the neural pathways of vision.

Jun 27, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

ABOVE: Horizontal cells of mice
DRINNENBERG ET AL.

Acomputer model of the mouse retina both reiterated experimental results and predicted outcomes of toying with specific neurons, according to findings published in Neuron on June 21. Researchers suggest the simulation could be used to forecast the results of eye diseases. 

The scientists tweaked a type of neuron, called a horizontal cell, which acts as a go-between for the input and output cells in the retina. By switching this type of cell on and off in mice, the scientists recorded a wide range of responses to the interference. 

Their computer simulation corroborated the observations in mice and made other predictions about the responses of horizontal cells that the scientists validated.

“One way to test our understanding of the retina is to perturb one of its elements, measure all the outputs, and see if our ‘understanding,’ which is a model, can predict the observed changes,” Rava da Silveira, a coauthor on the paper, says in a statement

A. Drinnernberg et al., “How diverse retinal functions arise from feedback at the first visual synapse,” Neuron, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2018.06.001, 2018.

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