W. Martin Usrey, Ph.D.

 W. Martin  Usrey, Ph.D.


  • Professor and Chair
  • Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; Neurology


Structure, Function and Development of Neural Circuits for Vision

Research Summary

The long-term goal of the Usrey laboratory is to understand the functional properties of neural circuits that serve vision and the relationship between circuit activity, behavior and perception. Current research projects are focused on determining (1) how sensory information is processed and transmitted within and between brain areas, (2) the cellular and circuit mechanisms that mediate the effects of spatial attention on visual processing, (3) the role of feedback pathways for vision, (4) the relationship between neural activity and visual perception, and (5) the molecular, cellular, and circuit mechanisms that establish parallel processing streams in the prenatal retina. Using an arsenal of techniques that includes whole-cell and multielectrode recordings from the isolated retina along with molecular phenotyping of identified cells, single and multielectrode recordings, optogenetic manipulation of neuronal activity, and fMRI, we are discovering how sensory information is established and encoded in brain activity, as well as the mechanisms employed by the brain for communicating information dynamically from one level to the next. The Usrey laboratory is also home to Brainmaps.org, an interactive, high-resolution digital brain atlas and virtual microscope for students, educators, and researchers.

Our research is funded by the NIH, the NSF, the McKnight Foundation, the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Select Publications

(Selected from 63 publications)

Briggs F, Kiley CW, Callaway EM, and Usrey WM. (2016) Morphological substrates for parallel streams of corticogeniculate feedback originating in both V1 and V2 of the macaque monkey. Neuron 90:388-399.

Usrey WM, and Alitto HJ. (2015) Visual functions of the thalamus. Annual Review of Vision Science. 1:351-371.

Bastos AM, Briggs F, Alitto HJ, Mangun GR, and Usrey WM. (2014) Simultaneous recordings from the primary visual cortex and lateral geniculate nucleus reveal rhythmic interactions and a cortical source for gamma-band oscillations. Journal of Neuroscience. 34:7639-7644.

Briggs F, Mangun GR, and Usrey WM. (2013) Attention Enhances Synaptic Efficacy and Signal-to-Noise in Neural Circuits. Nature 499:476-480.

Bastos AM, Usrey WM, Adams RA, Mangun GR, Fires P, and Friston KJ. (2012) Cononical microcircuits for predictive coding. Neuron 76:695-711.

Reid RC, and Usrey WM. (2012) Vision. In: Fundamental Neuroscience, 4th Edition. Eds, Squire LR, Roberts JL, Spitzer NC, Zigmond MJ, McConnell SK, Bloom FE. Academic Press. San Diego.

Moore BD, Kiley CW, Sun C, and Usrey WM. (2011) Rapid plasticity of visual responses in the adult lateral geniculate nucleus. Neuron 71:812-819.

Briggs F, and Usrey WM. (2011) Distinct mechanisms for size tuning in primate visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 31:12644-12649.

Briggs F, and Usrey WM. (2011) Corticogeniculate feedback and parallel processing in the primate visual system. Journal of Physiology 589:33-40.

Rathbun DL, Warland DK, and Usrey WM. (2010) Spike timing and information transmission at retinogeniculate synapses. Journal of Neuroscience 30:13558-13566

Briggs F, and Usrey WM. (2009) Parallel processing in the corticogeniculate pathay. Neuron 62:135-146.


Center for Neuroscience