The Manookin lab is investigating the structure and function of neural circuits within the retina and developing techniques for treating blindness.
Many blinding diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, cause death of the rods and cones, but spare other cell types within the retina. Thus, many techniques for restoring visual function following blindness are based on the premise that other cells within the retina remain viable and capable of performing their various roles in visual processing. There are more than 80 different neuronal types in the human retina and these form the components of the specialized circuits that transform the signals from photoreceptors into a neural code responsible for our perception of color, form, and motion, and thus visual experience. The Manookin laboratory is investigating the function and connectivity of neural circuits in the retina using a variety of techniques including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and electron microscopy. This knowledge is being used to develop more effective techniques for restoring visual function following blindness.