Barchi Library (140 John Morgan Building)
Elizabeth (Zab) Johnson
Director, Wharton Neuroscience Initiative
The tree shrew as a model system for early visual processing
Tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri) share membership in the same clade, or evolutionary branch, as rodents and primates. Their moderate size, relatively large eyes, and the ease of access to primary visual cortex for imaging and electrophysiology make them an ideal subject for studies of early visual processing and functional organization. In addition, they are highly visual, diurnal mammals with a cone-dominated retina and a geniculo-cortical organization resembling that of primates. In 2012, the Kunming Institute of Zoology for the Chinese Academy of Sciences completed genome sequencing of a Chinese tree shrew, opening up further experimental avenues for tree shrews to serve as a new model system for the application of genetic techniques, manipulations, and analyses, further facilitating the tree shrew as a useful animal model relevant for human health and disease. I will discuss some of the background, limitations, and advantages of using tree shrews as a model system for exploring early visual processing, highlighting my own work on the organization of the tree shrew’s intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, as well as the thalamic and early cortical processing of color and orientation signals.
A pizza lunch will be served.