Jozsef VighProfessor Biomedical Sciences
W315D AZjozsef.email@example.com (970) 491-5758
My research focuses on visual signal processing in the retina. I am interested in how and why retinal nerve cells communicate with each other. Like everywhere else in the central nervous system, communication between retinal neurons occurs at synapses. Synapses are neuron-specific connections, where chemicals (called neurotransmitters) are released by the presynaptic neuron and detected by receptors located on the postsynaptic neuron. How this transmitter is released, which transmitter is used, and what kind of receptor detects the transmitter outlines how these two neurons communicate. Overlying modulatory processes tune the basic mechanisms of communication to physiological needs. Synaptically coupled neurons form microcircuits, and ultimately determine how the retina codes for three fundamental features of our visual environment: contrast, color and motion. In my lab, various retinal preparations (whole eye cup, slice and isolated cell) are investigated mainly with electrophysiological techniques (ERG, extracellular-, sharp electrode- and patch-clamp recordings) in order to answer how visual signals are processed. Current projects in the lab focus on the synaptic mechanism underlying contrast detection, feedback mechanisms in the inner retina, and modulation of glutamate release from bipolar cell terminals. My formal teaching responsibilities lie in graduate education. I coordinate and teach most of the Neurons, Circuits and Behavior course (NB/BMS 505). I am also lecturing in team taught courses such as Physiology of Ion Channels (NB 750) and Biomolecular Tools for Bioengineers (BIOM 533). A substantial portion of my teaching activities takes place outside the classroom: in my lab undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are trained to conduct independent as well as collaborative research projects.