I am interested in the work done by the eye and the brain to analyse the visual world and support visual perception. I'm particularly interested in the way that basic properties of networks of nerve cells at each level of the visual pathway determine visual sensitivity. In physiological experiments the functional properties of individual neurons and groups of neurons are studied. In perceptual experiments the sensitivity of human observers is studied. I use computational models to link these two sets of observations.
Mónica Maria Fernandes Freitas Martins
Moorfields Eye Charity PhD student (collaboration with Rachael Pearson, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL)
The eye is at the forefront of the development of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of neural degeneration. Therefore the ability to screen for behavioural measurements of visual sensitivity is crucial for the success of the pre-clinical development of new treatments for retinal disease, such as gene and cell therapies. As part as my PhD project I am aiming to develop and investigate a non-invasive behaviour test based on visual stimulus-induced responses that will inform us about the functional vision in murine models of retinal dysfunction and recovery.
MRC Postdoc (collaboration with Aman Saleem, Francesca Caccuci and Lilly Pharmaceuticals)
My research focuses on understanding how the brain adjusts to sensory experience. The nervous system adapts to the environment over a wide range of timescales. This plasticity has been parcelled into distinct categories of study (i.e. adaptation, perceptual learning) each emphasising distinct timescales and phenomenology. My principle aim is to investigate how the visual system adapts to changes in the visual environment at multiple timescales and to understand whether distinct forms of plasticity are mediated by the same or different neuronal mechanisms.
UCL-Birkbeck MRC DTP PhD student (collaboration with Aman Saleem and Andrew Macaskill)
I’m interested in why we do the things that we do, and plan to study this by engaging with the question of why mice do the things that they do. Certain visual stimuli induce certain behaviours in mice. How the mice decide which of the behaviours to engage in on the basis of the pattern of light hitting their retina is unclear. I want to develop our knowledge of the neural pathways underlying these decisions through tracing them, recording and manipulating their activity.
BBSRC Postdoc (collaboration with Kate Jeffery and Aman Saleem)
In the presence of threats, our instinctive response is to run away from danger and to reach a safe shelter. Our brain can quickly determine the best trajectory towards safety by considering our internal representation of the surrounded environment. My research focuses on understanding the brain mechanisms that control escape responses, including how information from the external environment (such as visual landmarks) are processed in the brain to help determine the selection of escape route. I combine behavioural assays for innate defensive responses, neurophysiological measurements and optogenetics.
OTHER ACTIVE COLLABORATIONS
- Kate Jeffery, UCL
- Aman Saleem, UCL
- Keith Phillips, Lilly
- Rachael Pearson, UCL
- Jack Wells and Mark Lythgoe, CABI, UCL
- Adam Kohn and Amir Aschner, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Paul Martin and Sander Pietersen, University of Sydney
- Rory Townsend and Pulin Gong, University of Sydney