Dopaminergic modulation of retinal processing from starlight to sunlight.

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Neuromodulators such as dopamine, enable context-dependent plasticity of neural circuit function throughout the central nervous system. For example, in the retina, dopamine tunes visual processing for daylight and nightlight conditions. Specifically, high levels of dopamine release in the retina tune vision for daylight (photopic) conditions, while low levels tune it for nightlight (scotopic) conditions. This review covers the cellular and circuit-level mechanisms within the retina that are altered by dopamine. These mechanisms include changes in gap junction coupling and ionic conductances, both of which are altered by the activation of diverse types of dopamine receptors across diverse types of retinal neurons. We contextualize the modulatory actions of dopamine in terms of alterations and optimizations to visual processing under photopic and scotopic conditions, with particular attention to how they differentially impact distinct cell types. Finally, we discuss how transgenic mice and disease models have shaped our understanding of dopaminergic signaling and its role in visual processing. Cumulatively, this review illustrates some of the diverse and potent mechanisms through which neuromodulation can shape brain function.





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Roy, Suva, and Greg D Field (2019). Dopaminergic modulation of retinal processing from starlight to sunlight. Journal of pharmacological sciences, 140(1). pp. 86–93. 10.1016/j.jphs.2019.03.006 Retrieved from

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Greg D. Field

Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurobiology

My laboratory studies how the retina processes visual scenes and transmits this information to the brain.  We use multi-electrode arrays to record the activity of hundreds of retina neurons simultaneously in conjunction with transgenic mouse lines and chemogenetics to manipulate neural circuit function. We are interested in three major areas. First, we work to understand how neurons in the retina are functionally connected. Second we are studying how light-adaptation and circadian rhythms alter visual processing in the retina. Finally, we are working to understand the mechanisms of retinal degenerative conditions and we are investigating potential treatments in animal models.

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