F. M. Kirby Neurobiology Center | Boston Children's Hospital | Harvard Medical School
Broadly stated, our goal is to learn how external signals interact with internal states to generate appropriate action. We take a biophysical approach to neural circuits and conduct our investigations within a conceptual framework established by behavioral experiments. In this manner, we cultivate a precise understanding of the steps by which system function emerges from its components.
Further information about the laboratory can be found on this site or by contacting us.
Depicted in the image above (left panel) is a cell in the mammalian retina that is unusual in being both a photoreceptor and an output neuron. Here, we have filled one of these intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs, the brightest cell in the image) with a soluble tracer. The tracer has diffused into a number of other neurons (small, dimly-labeled cells). The function of this local network is presently unknown. Also shown is an electrophysiological recording from another ipRGC (right panel). The cell fires action potentials in response to a brief pulse of light (light monitor below trace) despite being isolated pharmacologically from the retinal network. The mechanism by which the cell proceeds from photon capture to electrical signaling remains largely unclear. Intriguingly, the mechanism is more typical of invertebrate photoreceptors than vertebrate ones, even though this is a vertebrate cell.