• Stephen A. Baccus, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Dept. of Neurobiology

    Research: “Understanding Computation in the Interneuron Population of the Retina Using Simultaneous Multi-photon Imaging and Multielectrode Recording”


    Dr. Baccus studies how the circuitry of the retina translates the visual scene into electrical impulses in the optic nerve. Visual perception is initiated by the molecules, cells and synapses of the retina, acting together to process and compress visual information into a sequence of spikes in a population of nerve fibers. One of the largest gaps in neuroscience lies in the explaining of systems-level processes like visual processing in terms of cellular-level mechanisms. This problem is tractable in the retina because of its experimental accessibility, and the substantial amount already known about basic retinal cell types and functions.

    Dr. Baccus’ goal is to extract general principles of computation in neural circuits, and to explain specific retinal visual processes such as adaptation to contrast and image statistics, and the detection of moving objects. To do this, we use a versatile set of experimental and theoretical techniques. While projecting visual scenes from a video monitor onto the isolated retina, an extracellular multielectrode array is used to record a substantial fraction of the output of a small patch of retina. Simultaneously, we record intracellularly from retinal interneurons in order to monitor and perturb single cells as the circuit operates. To measure the activity of both populations of interneurons and output neurons, we record visual responses optically using two-photon imaging while simultaneously recording with a multielectrode array. Finally, all of this data is assembled and interpreted in the context of mathematical models to predict and explain the output of the retinal circuit.


    A retinal circuit that computes object motion. Baccus SA, Olveczky BP, Manu M, Meister M. J Neurosci. 2008; 28 (27): 6807-17

    Architecture and activity-mediated refinement of axonal projections from a mosaic of genetically identified retinal ganglion cells. Huberman AD, Manu M, Koch SM, Susman MW, Lutz AB, Ullian EM, Baccus SA, Barres BA. Neuron. 2008; 59 (3): 425-38

    Image processing for a high-resolution optoelectronic retinal prosthesis. Asher A, Segal WA, Baccus SA, Yaroslavsky LP, Palanker DV. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2007; 54 (6 Pt 1): 993-1004

    Timing and computation in inner retinal circuitry. Baccus SA, Annu Rev Physiol. 2007: 69 271-90

    From a whisper to a roar: adaptation to the mean and variance of naturalistic sounds. Baccus SA, Neuron. 2006; 51 (6): 682-4

Copyright ©2011 E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind