Researchers unravel mystery of how human eyes compute direction of moving light

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

The mystery of how human eyes compute the direction of moving light has been made clearer by scientists at The University of Queensland.

Using advanced electrical recording techniques, researchers from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) discovered how nerve cells in the eye's retina were integral to the process.

Professor Stephen Williams said that dendrites - the branching processes of a neuron that conduct electrical signals toward the cell body - played a critical role in decoding images.

"The retina is not a simple camera, but actively processes visual information in a neuronal network, to compute abstractions that are relayed to the higher brain," Professor Williams said.

"Previously, dendrites of neurons were thought to be passive input areas.

"Our research has found that dendrites also have powerful processing capabilities."

Co-author Dr Simon Kalita-de Croft said dendritic processing enabled the retina to convert and refine visual cues into electrical signals.

"We now know that movement of light - say, a flying bird, or a passing car - gets converted into an electrical signal by dendritic processing in the retina," Dr Kalita-de Croft said.

"The discovery bridges the gap between our understanding of the anatomy and physiology of neuronal circuits in the retina."

Professor Williams said the ability of dendrites in the retina to process visual information depended on the release of two neurotransmitters - chemical messengers - from a single class of cell.

"These signals are integrated by the output neurons of the retina," Professor Williams said.

"Determining how the neural circuits in the retina process information can help us understand computational principles operational throughout the brain.

"Excitingly, our discovery provides a new template for how neuronal computations may be implemented in brain circuits."

Source: University of Queensland

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
New lab assay could make diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer easier