Visual Receptivity in Peri- and Postnatal Mice: Neural and Vascular Development in the Eye and Photo Aversive Behavior.
Molecular guidance molecules and intrinsic genetic programs primarily sculpt the assembly of the nervous and vascular systems during embryonic and postnatal maturation. However, neural activity does play an important role in refining the final structure and connectivity in both of these systems. Our lab focuses on understanding where and how visual experience exerts its actions on the refinement of the neural retina and the ocular vasculature. A recently discovered photosensitive system within the eye that is independent of rods and cones endows very young animals with rudimentary photoreceptive capabilities. Light activation of these melanopsin expressing ganglion cells guide behavioral responses and modifies vascular development. We seek to discover the extended manifestations of light exposure on behavior, neural development and vascular maturation.