"Cortical Circuits that Support Visual Perception"

December 7, 2011 -
11:45am to 1:00pm

The Fox Center for Vision Restoration organizes an exciting lecture series focusing on ocular regeneration and new therapies.

Distinguished national and international speakers present their innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to finding cures for vision impairment. The objective of this lecture series is to accelerate research through knowledge sharing, partnership building and out of the box thinking.

This lecture series should be of interest to:clinicians with an interest in ophthalmology; scientists and engineers interested in tissue engineering; cellular therapies and assistive technologies;students, postdoctoral fellows, residents and research staff.

Matt Smith Matt Smith, PhD
Assistant Professor
Ophthalmology and Bioengineering

Dr. Smith received his undergraduate degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, where he graduated summa cum laude with dual majors in Biology and Psychology as well as four minors. His doctoral work was performed at New York University in the laboratory of Tony Movshon, where he studied how the activity of single neurons in the visual cortex gives rise to visual perception.

He continued this work as a postdoctoral fellow, firstĀ at Carnegie Mellon University and then at the University of Pittsburgh in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Most recently, he has been studying how eye movements and visual perception influence the activity of a large group of neurons.
A NIH Pathway to Independence Award, given to select individuals to promote their transition into independent faculty, currently funds him. He is presently the director of the Visual Neuroscience laboratory in the Ophthalmology department of the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the Fox Center, the McGowan Institute, the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. His work focuses on understanding how neurons in different brain regions interact during active perception of the visual world, using a mixture of neurophysiological, behavioral and computational techniques.

Please check this link for more details on the Smith Lab.

Presentation abstract

While roughly a million nerve fibers exit the back of each of our eyes, there are many billions of neurons in the human cerebral cortex devoted to vision. This simple comparison makes clear the immense complexity of the processing that takes place after visual information exits the eye. Studying how the visual cortex works is thus a critical part of understanding how we see, but it is also vital for future treatments in the clinical setting.

A number of visual disorders - most notably amblyopia - have a cortical basis, and changes in the visual cortex are known to occur in response to numerous visual impairments, ranging from glaucoma to the loss of an eye. Recent advances in multielectrode recording technology have provided us access to signals acquired from tens to hundreds of neurons simultaneously, as well as complicated patterns of microstimulation.

We have used this technology to monitor the activity of populations of neurons in the visual cortex of non-human primates, and measure functional changes in how neurons communicate under normal circumstances and in strabismic animals. Our experiments reveal fundamental principles of organization in visual cortex, and provide a foundation for understanding how the cortex changes in response to visual disorders and how cortical visual prosthetic devices can interface with the visual system.

Location and Address

Eye and Ear Boardroom, 5th floor, Eye and Ear Institute
203 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213