Nick Oesch

Assistant Research Scientist

We are interested in understanding how small groups of neurons work together to do big computational tasks- like process visual information. To do this, we study the retina, where visual processing begins. Neurons in the retina extract complex information from the visual scene, all within a few synapses. Ultimately, our goal is to understand how neural circuits in the retina give rise to visual perception, and to understand how they fail during retinal disease. Currently, we are focused on understanding how synapses encode differences in the visual scene (contrast) over a broad range of visual conditions, and we are focusing on how these same computations are changed during diseases like retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, we are studying how therapies like retinal prosthetics and laboratory grown retinas can restore vision in these diseases. To answer these questions, we study the retina of mice and other species using whole-cell electrophysiology, optical physiology, and quantitative behavioral approaches. Together, these techniques allow us to examine how the nuts-and-bolts mechanisms of neural processing contribute to specific aspects of vision and perception, and will allow us to one day restore vision in those suffering from blindness and low vision.
  • Graydon, C. W., Zhang, J., Oesch, N. W., Sousa, A. A., Leapman, R. D., & Diamond, J. S. (2014). Passive Diffusion as a Mechanism Underlying Ribbon Synapse Vesicle Release and Resupply. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(27), 8948–8962.
  • Grimes, W. N., Seal, R. P., Oesch, N., Edwards, R. H., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Genetic targeting and physiological features of VGLUT3+ amacrine cells. Visual Neuroscience, 28(5), 381–392.
  • Oesch, N. W., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Ribbon synapses compute temporal contrast and encode luminance in retinal rod bipolar cells. Nature Neuroscience, 14(12), 1555–1561.
  • Oesch, N. W., Kothmann, W. W., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Illuminating synapses and circuitry in the retina. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 21(2), 238–244.
  • Oesch, N., Euler, T., & Taylor, W. R. (2005). Direction-selective dendritic action potentials in rabbit retina. Neuron, 47(5), 739–750.