Current Basic Research
How neurons in thalamus and cortex process information and interact during attentive vision.
Visual information is entering our eyes before being processed by brain areas such as the thalamus and the visual cortex. These structures have shown to form a corticothalamic loop, where information is fed back and forward at different depths of both the thalamus and the cortex. Although the laminar structure as well as the anatomical projections between these structures are now well-described, the functional role of the corticothalamic loop remains unclear.
Recent key Publications:
Binocular Suppression in the Macaque Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Reveals Early Competitive Interactions between the Eyes
eNeuroDougherty, K., Schmid, M. C., and Maier, A.J Comp Neurol 527, 2019.Cell-Targeted Optogenetics and Electrical Microstimulation Reveal the Primate Koniocellular Projection to Supra-granular Visual Cortex,Klein, C., Evrard, H. C., Shapcott, K. A., Haverkamp, S., Logothetis, N. K., and Schmid, M. C.Neuron 90, 2016.To see or not to see--thalamo-cortical networks during blindsight and perceptual suppression,Schmid, M. C., and Maier, A.Prog Neurobiol 126, 2015.
Under what conditions does neuronal activity become rhythmic
Rhythmic brain activity has traditionally been observed only during sleep. More and more research demonstrates however the emergence of brain rhythms during active cognitive engagement and their alternation in various neurological conditions. Our laboratory tries to delineate the neurobiological mechanisms that lead to rhythmic neuronal activity and how brain rhythmis can be beneficial for behaviour.
Recent key Publications:Rhythmic fluctuations of saccadic reaction time arising from visual competition,Chota, S., Luo, C., Crouzet, S. M., Boyer, L., Kienitz, R., Schmid, M. C., and VanRullen, R.Sci Rep 8, 2018.Theta Rhythmic Neuronal Activity and Reaction Times Arising from Cortical Receptive Field Interactions during Distributed Attention,Kienitz, R., Schmiedt, J. T., Shapcott, K. A., Kouroupaki, K., Saunders, R. C., and Schmid, M. C.Curr Biol 28, 2018
How reading is enabled by visual and attentional processes
Reading is a process that involves small eye movements (saccades) from one information bit (e.g. a word) to the next. Dyslexics lack the ability to process written information properly. Amongst other deficits this is reflected behaviourally by an increase of the time they look at each word. It has also been suggested that dyslexics show dysfunctions in cortical areas responsible for the processing of fast visual information (e.g. area MT). We are interested in delineating the deficits of dyslexic patients to understand the neuronal basis of this disorder and to develop strategies to recover from it. To do so, we are tracking patients eye movements and their behavior and measure their neuronal responses using fMRI.
Mechanisms of brain plasticity following retinal disease or cortical atrophy
Lesions from injury or disease in the nervous system often trigger plastic reorganization of the the affected neural circuits. Our group tries to understand the nature of such neuronal plasticity that affects the visual system following lesions to the retina or the visual cortex. Our research on Blindsight following injury of primary visual cortex has demonstrated changes in the organisation of higher-order association cortex.
Recent key Publications:Schmiedt, J. T., Maier, A., Fries, P., Saunders, R. C., Leopold, D. A., and Schmid, M. C.J Neurosci 34, 2014.Schmid, M. C., Schmiedt, J. T., Peters, A. J., Saunders, R. C., Maier, A., and Leopold, D. A.J Neurosci 33, 2013.Blindsight depends on the lateral geniculate nucleus,Schmid, M. C., Mrowka, S. W., Turchi, J., Saunders, R. C., Wilke, M., Peters, A. J., Ye, F. Q., and Leopold, D. A.Nature 466, 2010.