Visual Neuroscience Laboratory

Principal Investigator

The mysteries of vision are solved one neuron at a time.

Our eyes are wonders of nature, taking in all of the light around us and transforming it to signals sent down to millions of nerve fibers. Once that information reaches our brain, there are several billion neurons devoted to analyzing and interpreting every facet of the visual world. It is impossible to fully understand vision and its disorders without learning how the brain works.

The Smith Laboratory is working to understand the mysteries of vision by unlocking the secrets of the brain. He currently is analyzing the activity of several brain regions involved in coordinating how our eyes move and our brains interpret salient information in the world around us. He does this by monitoring the activity of many neurons at once, trying to understand how they work together to produce our visual perception of the world around us.

Visual dysfunction due to traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of disability. Furthermore, a number of visual disorders are caused by or lead to changes in the parts of our brain responsible for vision. A basic understanding of how the visual brain works is essential to learning how to treat these problems. In addition, it lays the groundwork for visual prosthetic devices in the future. Dr. Smith’s work is aimed at putting together these basic pieces to enhance our understanding of vision in people with visual disabilities and normally sighted individuals.

Selected Publications

  1. Smith MA, Sommer MA (2013) Spatial and temporal scales of correlation in macaque V4. J Neurosci, 33: 5422–5432
  2. Smith MA, Jia X, Zandvakili A, Kohn A (2013) Laminar dependence of neuronal correlations in visual cortex. Journal of Neurophysiology, 109: 940–947
  3. Jia X, Smith MA, Kohn A Flexible relationship between gamma components of the local field potential and spiking activity. J Neurosci, 31: 9390–9403, 2011.
  4. Kelly RC, Smith MA, Kass RE, Lee TS. Local field potentials indicate network state and account for neuronal response variability. J Comp Neurosci, 29: 567–579, 2010. 
  5. Kohn A, Zandvakili A, Smith MA. Correlations and brain states: from electrophysiology to functional imaging. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 19: 434–438, 2009. 
  6. Smith MA, Kohn A. Spatial and temporal scales of neuronal correlation in primary visual cortex. J Neurosci, 28: 12591–12603, 2008. 
  7. Kelly RC*, Smith MA*, Samonds JM, Kohn A, Bonds AB, Movshon JA, Lee TS. Comparison of recordings from microelectrode arrays and single electrodes in visual cortex. J Neurosci, 27: 261–264 [*contributed equally to this work], 2007. 
  8. Smith MA, Kelly RC, Lee TS. Dynamics of response to perceptual pop-out stimuli in macaque V1. J Neurophysiol, 98: 3436–3449, 2007. 
  9. Kohn A, Smith MA. Stimulus dependence of neuronal correlation in primary visual cortex of the macaque. J Neurosci, 25: 3661–3673, 2005.