Neuronal Circuits of Visual Perception

Investigating the Properties of Neuronal Circuits in the Visual System

Our work aims to investigate the properties of visual circuits and their fundamental computations. Since sensory information processing always takes place in the context of behavioral goals, we are interested in studying how neuronal circuit function is modulated by cognitive factors, such as expectations, attention or decision-making. To address these questions we measure the activity of local neuronal populations using multi-electrode recordings in the visual system of awake, behaving mice.

Model Organism

Our model system for studying visual information processing is the mouse. While the mouse has a more simple visual system compared to the classic animal models for vision, cats and primates, basic response properties of neurons seem preserved, like simple/complex receptive field structures and selectivity for orientation and direction. In the mouse, the visual cortical system consists of several different areas which are located on the surface of the brain, making them readily accessible for the implantation of electrodes and imaging. Additionally, in mice powerful genetic tools exist for the analysis and perturbation of neuronal circuits.


We deliver controlled visual stimuli while the animal is placed on a spherical treadmill or freely moving in a choice arena. The animals are trained to simply view visual stimuli or perform visual tasks during recording of neuronal activity. We employ infrared eye tracking techniques to monitor eye movements during the presentation of visual stimuli.

We use multisite probes to record neuronal activity from small populations of neurons in the visual system. Advanced data analysis methods are employed for the identification of single units and processing of multidimensional time-series. In addition, we exploit optogenetic tools to perturb and manipulate neuronal activity and behavior.


Thomas Wachtler LMU Munich, Germany
Christian Leibold University of Freiburg, Germany
Philipp Berens University of Tübingen, Germany
Thomas Euler University of Tübingen, Germany
Tatjana Tchumatchenko MPI for Brain Research, Frankfurt
Gaute Einevoll Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo, Norway