Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Michael Mustari

mustari, michael
Phone:  206-616-3476
Dept.: Research Professor, Ophthalmology; Adjunct Professor, Biological Structure; Director, WNPRC
Neuroscience Focus Groups:
Lab Link


Studies in my laboratory are directed at advancing our understanding of the neural mechanisms responsible for normal and pathological visual, vestibular and oculomotor behavior. My research is directed at defining the relative roles of cortical and brainstem areas in converting visual information into commands for volitional smooth pursuit (SP), reflex ocularfollowing and vestibular ocular behavior in normal and strabismic macaques. My work is conducted at the neural systems level using single-unit recording during different eye movement and visual-vestibular behaviors. We pursue our research guided by a strong conceptual framework developed in control-systems and computational modeling studies.  Our overarching hypothesis is that different aspects of SP, vergence-SP and visual-vestibular behaviors are differentially supported by parallel cortical-brainstem pathways. We seek to identify the signals (visual, eye, vestibular) carried in frontal (FEF) and parietal (MSTd, MSTl) cortical neurons that actually project to one or more brainstem sitesincluding the pretectal nucleus of the optic tract (NOT), superior colliculus (SC) and pontine nuclei (DLPN, NRTP) during SP. A major thrust of my work is to advance our understanding of laminar-specific processing and distribution of information in the corticalpursuit system of normal and strabismic subjects. Collaborative projects in my laboratory include computation studies related to processing of visual and eye movement information in frontal and parietal cortex, motor neuronal innervation of different eye muscle compartments and associated neuroanatomy.  Our work is supported by the National Eye Institutes and is designed to develop new knowledge that will aid in the diagnosis and treatment of developmental or acquired disorders affecting sensory-motor behavior.