Vision is an active sensory process; our eyes are not simply stationary cameras. Instead, we move our eyes in rapid jumps and continuous tracking movements to find and follow interesting items in the world. Even though eye movements refocus our vision thousands of times per day, the vast majority of research studies the eyes when they are not moving. This practice leaves a large gap in the translation of basic research findings into real-world, patient-driven applications and ignores human behavioral experiments demonstrating that what we see radically changes around the time of eye movements.
My laboratory studies the influence of eye movements on the activity of visual neurons in the cerebral cortex. We hope to bridge the gap between well-controlled laboratory experiments and dynamic, natural primate vision. We record from large populations of neurons in critical nodes of the brain to directly observe how visual information from the retinae is transformed into adaptive commands to move the eyes. Our goal is to understand the neuronal mechanisms of visual-motor interactions in order to: 1) facilitate the development of clinically viable treatments of visual impairments; and 2) provide a broad foundation for understanding how the brain seamlessly links perception and movements.
Among other projects, trainees in the laboratory have the opportunity learn how to record spiking activity from populations of neurons in awake, behaving animals; to run and analyze detailed eye-tracking experiments in human and animal subjects; and to probe "big data" sets for meaningful interactions between eye movements and vision. As part of the Department of Ophthalmology, you will also have ample opportunity to interact with clinicians interested in translating what we learn in the lab into treatments for visual disorders.
Mayo, JP and Smith, MA. (2017) Neuronal adaptation: tired neurons or wired networks? Trends in Neuroscience 40(3):127-128
Mayo, JP and Maunsell, JHR. (2016) Graded neuronal modulations related to visual spatial attention. Journal of Neuroscience 36(19):5353-61
Mayo, JP, Morrison, RM, Smith, MA. (2016) A probabilistic approach to receptive field mapping in the frontal eye fields. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 10(25):10.3389
Mayo, JP, Cohen, MR, and Maunsell, JHR. (2015) A refined neuronal population measure of visual attention. PLoS One 10(8):e0136570
Mayo, JP, DiTomasso AR, Sommer MA, Smith MA. (2015) Dynamics of visual receptive fields in the macaque frontal eye field. Journal of Neurophysiology 114(6):3201-10
Mayo, JP and Sommer, MA. (2013) Neuronal correlates of visual event timing at brief timescales. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences 110(4):1506-11
Mayo, JP and Sommer, MA. (2008) Neuronal adaptation caused by sequential visual stimulation in the frontal eye field. Journal of Neurophysiology 100(4):1923-35