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Visual information processing: neural coding and vision restoration

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Team leader: Serge Picaud

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Introduction

Our group studies retinal information processing in normal and pathological conditions and investigates how pathological conditions can be prevented. We also develop and test new therapeutic vision restoration strategies.

Presentation

Research in the past decade has shown that the retina performs many complex computations, and we still have to understand how the light impinging the photoreceptors is transformed by the retinal network into a set of spike trains that are sent decoded by the brain. This retinal circuit bears some similarities to the sensory areas of the brain, thus, studying the retina can provide a window onto the brain function. Recent clinical trials indicate that the retinal circuit is capable of transferring useful visual information to the brain even in blind patients who have lost their photoreceptors.

Measuring retinal function in normal and pathological conditions provides clues for intervening in degenerative processes and restoring visual information processing. Genetic tools such as those used in optogenetic therapy enable us to record and manipulate neuronal activity, but they might also be used as a therapeutic alternative to retinal prostheses.

Our past and current work has investigated cell and animal models of different retinal diseases with either photoreceptor degeneration (retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome) or neuronal loss (diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma). We have investigated different neuroprotective mechanisms including light filters, calcium channel blockers, taurine, VEGF, etc, and assessed new techniques for visual restoration such as optogenetic therapy targeting different cellular levels or prostheses using innovative structures and materials like diamond and graphene.


Research areas

  • Retinal encoding of visual information
  • Light toxicity on photoreceptors and retinal neurons
  • Neuroproction on photoreceptors and retinal neurons
  • New concepts of neuroprostheses for vision restoration
  • Functional validation of optogenetic therapy for visual restoration

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