Follow the light

Scientists have delved into how the eyes track visual cues

04 Sep 2017 by Selina Powell

LightResearchers at the University of Queensland have gained a greater understanding of how human eyes process the direction of moving light.

In a study, published in Nature Communications, researchers used electrical recording techniques to reveal how nerve cells within the retina are fundamental to the process.

Dendrites, which extend from neurons to conduct electrical signals to the cell body, were found to play a crucial role in making sense of images.

Study co-author, Dr Simon Kalita-de Croft explained that dendritic processing enables 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 highlighted.

“The discovery bridges the gap between our understanding of the anatomy and physiology of neuronal circuits in the retina,” he added. 

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