B06 until 12/2010
About project B06 (transferred to Göttingen from 01/2011)
Project title: Circuit mechanisms underlying concerted spike patterns in the neural code of the retina
Summary: The project ran for twelve months during 2010 as part of the SFB 870 before the project leader moved from Munich to Göttingen. The goal of the project was to characterize how the neural network of the retina processes visual stimuli in the presence of rapid eye movements (saccades). Previous work had shown that saccades can strongly affect retinal activity, leading in different ganglion cells either to bursts of spikes or to transient suppression of spiking activity. Little has been known, however, about how these effects on the spiking activity influence the encoding of the post-saccadic image, which comes into focus at the end of the saccade. One hypothesis has been that the sudden appearance of a new image after a saccade allows a retinal ganglion cell to encode visual information in the timing of their responses either with respect to the beginning of the new fixation or with respect to spikes elicited by other ganglion cells. Our own previous work had shown that certain ganglion cells in the salamander retina employ such a relative timing code for briefly flashed images. The particular focus of this project has thus been to study the effects of saccadic stimulus presentation on how individual and groups of ganglion cells encode images and on determining the underlying circuit mechanisms that shape these response characteristics.