E.J. Chichilnisky uses KaleidaGraph in his research at Salk Institute

E.J. Chichilnisky, an associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratories, uses multi-electrode recording to examine the function of the retina. For many years, neuroscientists have been examining nervous system function by recording the electrical activity of individual nerve cells. Chichilnisky and his team are working to take such research to the next level by recording the activity of large groups of cells at once. This step is necessary because even the simplest functions of the nervous system involve many thousands of neurons.

Chichilnisky’s laboratory is focused on how the retina processes visual information and transmits this information to the brain. A key area of interest is how retinal neurons collectively communicate visual motion information to areas of the brain responsible for motion perception and behavior guided by motion. Other areas of investigation include the role of synchronized activity in retinal signaling, and how retinal signals mediate the detection of small numbers of photons in dim lighting conditions. Chichilnisky’s lab uses a state-of-the-art 512-electrode recording system, developed in collaboration with an international group of high-energy physicists, that allows them to monitor hundreds of cells at once while simulating the retina with spatial and temporal patterns of light. A long-term goal of the research is to contribute to development of visual prosthetics, devices that could be implanted in the eye and substitute for retinal tissue damaged by disease or other trauma.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health, and the training of future generations of researchers.

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