Dr. Joshua Singer is Chair and Professor of the Department of Biology.
PhDPhysiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, 1998
Generally, I want to understand how the output of a neural circuit reflects the behaviors of the individual synapses and neurons that compose it. The mammalian retina is a model circuit well suited to the study of this issue: it is well-characterized anatomically and physiologically, but the nature of synaptic transmission between its component neurons is understood poorly. Specifically, my laboratory studies a specialized group of neurons that compose a retinal circuit called the rod bipolar cell pathway. From our studies, we hope not only to understand signaling within the rod bipolar pathway but also to generate a broader understanding of how the properties of neurons and their synapses give rise to circuit behavior. Our work is of interest to sensory neuroscientists specifically and to neuroscientists generally: the former because it relates to the coding of sensory information by ribbon synapses and retinal circuits and the latter because it provides an understanding of the basic principles of synaptic communication between neurons and neural circuit function.