In the Visual Neuroscience lab we examine fundamental questions about how the brain develops and learns to see. We study the role of visual experience in shaping development of the brain and use this model to find new therapies that harness neuroplasticity to treat visual diseases.
Our lab is a leader in mapping synaptic changes in human visual cortex across the lifespan. Using a library of human postmortem samples we have found that synapses in human visual cortex are still developing at 20-30 years of age. This is much longer than traditionally believed and indicates that the effective age for neuroplasticity based treatments for lazy-eye and other childhood disorders may be extended into adolescence and beyond.
We study normal development of the visual areas in the brain as well as changes in the brain caused by amblyopia (lazy-eye) or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
We use a range of techniques, including synaptic protein analysis, visual psychophysics, and sophisticated computational analyses, to understand how visual experience impacts development of circuits in visual cortex. Our goal is to bridge the gap from synaptic development to visual perception. It is a big step from synapses to vision, but my lab and others are beginning to link specific synaptic proteins with different aspects of visual perception and plasticity. We are excited about the potential of connecting how synapses function in visual cortex with how we see.