Cristopher M. Niell

Learn More
Genetic methods available in mice are likely to be powerful tools in dissecting cortical circuits. However, the visual cortex, in which sensory coding has been most thoroughly studied in other species, has essentially been neglected in mice perhaps because of their poor spatial acuity and the lack of columnar organization such as orientation maps. We have(More)
Studies of visual processing in rodents have conventionally been performed on anesthetized animals, precluding examination of the effects of behavior on visually evoked responses. We have now studied the response properties of neurons in primary visual cortex of awake mice that were allowed to run on a freely rotating spherical treadmill with their heads(More)
The form of a neuron's dendritic arbor determines the set of axons with which it may form synaptic contacts, thus establishing connectivity within neural circuits. However, the dynamic relationship between dendrite growth and synaptogenesis is not well understood. To observe both processes simultaneously, we performed long-term imaging of non-spiny(More)
The visual pathway from the retina to the optic tectum in fish and frogs has long been studied as a model for neural circuit formation. Although morphological aspects, such as axonal and dendritic arborization, have been well characterized, less is known about how this translates into functional properties of tectal neurons during development. We developed(More)
The thalamus is crucial in determining the sensory information conveyed to cortex. In the visual system, the thalamic lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is generally thought to encode simple center-surround receptive fields, which are combined into more sophisticated features in cortex, such as orientation and direction selectivity. However, recent evidence(More)
Sensory processing is dependent upon behavioral state. In mice, locomotion is accompanied by changes in cortical state and enhanced visual responses. Although recent studies have begun to elucidate intrinsic cortical mechanisms underlying this effect, the neural circuits that initially couple locomotion to cortical processing are unknown. The mesencephalic(More)
Understanding the neural basis of visual perception is a long-standing fundamental goal of neuroscience. Historically, most vision studies were carried out on humans, macaques and cats. Over the past 5 years, however, a growing number of researchers have begun using mice to parse the mechanisms underlying visual processing; the rationale is that, despite(More)
The topographic representation of visual space is preserved from retina to thalamus to cortex. We have previously shown that precise mapping of thalamocortical projections requires both molecular cues and structured retinal activity. To probe the interaction between these two mechanisms, we studied mice deficient in both ephrin-As and retinal waves.(More)
Sensory-driven behaviors engage a cascade of cortical regions to process sensory input and generate motor output. To investigate the temporal dynamics of neural activity at this global scale, we have improved and integrated tools to perform functional imaging across large areas of cortex using a transgenic mouse expressing the genetically encoded calcium(More)
Although development of the nervous system is inherently a process of dynamic change, until recently it has generally been investigated by inference from static images. However, advances in live optical imaging are now allowing direct observation of growth, synapse formation, and even incipient function in the developing nervous system, at length scales(More)