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Focusing on optic tectum circuitry through the lens of genetics

Linda M Nevin1, Estuardo Robles1, Herwig Baier1* and Ethan K Scott2

Author Affiliations

1 University of California, San Francisco, Department of Physiology, 1550 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158-23241, USA

2 The University of Queensland, School of Biomedical Sciences, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia

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BMC Biology 2010, 8:126  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-126

Published: 28 September 2010

Abstract

The visual pathway is tasked with processing incoming signals from the retina and converting this information into adaptive behavior. Recent studies of the larval zebrafish tectum have begun to clarify how the 'micro-circuitry' of this highly organized midbrain structure filters visual input, which arrives in the superficial layers and directs motor output through efferent projections from its deep layers. The new emphasis has been on the specific function of neuronal cell types, which can now be reproducibly labeled, imaged and manipulated using genetic and optical techniques. Here, we discuss recent advances and emerging experimental approaches for studying tectal circuits as models for visual processing and sensorimotor transformation by the vertebrate brain.