Rieke Lab

Our research focuses on sensory signal processing, particularly in cases where sensory systems perform at or near the limits imposed by physics. Photon counting in the visual system is a beautiful example. At its peak sensitivity, the performance of the visual system is limited more by the division of light into discrete photons than by biological noise or inefficiencies. This observation guides our investigation of the underlying mechanisms. Below are some of the main questions we are currently trying to answer:

  • What are the limits to visual sensitivity imposed by noise in the rod and cone photoreceptors? How close does the retina come to realizing these limits?
  • How does the retinal circuitry read out the photoreceptor signals? Are there specializations for signals from rod and cone photoreceptors?
  • How does the retina adapt and maintain sensitivity when the mean or contrast of the light inputs change?

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