December 22, 2010

Studying the retinal ganglion cells: Andrew Huberman

Our guest this month is Andrew Huberman, an assistant professor in the department of neurobiology at UCSD. Dr Huberman is interested in a classic question in development—how do the eyes connect to the brain? Cells known as retinal ganglia cells (RGCs) receive information from photoreceptors in the retina and carry this information to the brain. Connections from the left eye and right eye connect to the same part of the brain early on, but sort into two groups during maturation. Furthermore, different subtypes of RGCs respond to color, motion, and brightness and these subtypes target separate, designated regions of the brain. Andrew and his lab are exploring the mechanisms that guide the separation of different subtypes of RGCs during development. At the end of our interview, he explains the role of electrical activity and different genes in guiding the migration of these cells during development as well as how a course on the biology of behavior inspired him to pursue a career in neuroscience.

More on the Huberman Lab's research

December 08, 2010

How neurons navigate their way around in the developing brain: David Van Vactor

David Van Vactor

Harvard University

Dec. 8, 2010 (Hosted by Osama Ahmed)

Your brain is composed of a tremendous number of neurons that make very specific connections with each other. The formation of this extremely complex circuit requires that each neuron find its appropriate target. Dr. David Van Vactor and his lab at Harvard University study the cellular machinery that help motor neurons navigate and find their correct partners, muscles, during development. They are also investigating how the neuromuscular junction is formed and maintained once the neuron reaches its destined target. At the end of our talk with David, he discusses the experiences in elementary school and college that led him to a career in science.

More on the Van Vactor Lab's research