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Academic & Professional Books  Organismal to Molecular Biology  Animals: Vertebrate Zoology

The Retina An Approachable Part of the Brain

By: John E Dowling(Author)
384 pages, 12 colour photos, 145 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: Belknap Press
The Retina
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  • The Retina ISBN: 9780674061545 Edition: 2 Hardback Feb 2012 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £99.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

John Dowling's The Retina, published in 1987, quickly became the most widely recognized introduction to the structure and function of retinal cells. In this revised edition, Dowling draws on twenty-five years of new research to produce an interdisciplinary synthesis focused on how retinal function contributes to our understanding of brain mechanisms.

The retina is a part of the brain pushed out into the eye during development. It retains many characteristics of other brain regions and hence has yielded significant insights on brain mechanisms. Visual processing begins there as a result of neuronal interactions in two synaptic layers that initiate an analysis of space, color, and movement. In humans, visual signals from 126 million photoreceptors funnel down to one million ganglion cells that convey at least a dozen representations of a visual scene to higher brain regions.

The revised edition calls attention to general principles applicable to all vertebrate retinas, while showing how the visual needs of different animals are reflected in their retinal variations. It includes completely new chapters on color vision and retinal degenerations and genetics, as well as sections on retinal development and visual pigment biochemistry, and presents the latest knowledge and theories on how the retina is organized anatomically, physiologically, and pharmacologically.

The clarity of writing and illustration that made The Retina a book of choice for a quarter century among graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, vision researchers, and teachers of upper-level courses on vision is retained in Dowling's new easy-to-read revised edition.


Preface to the Revised Edition
Preface (1987)
1. Approaches to the Brain
    Invertebrates: Simpler Nervous Systems
    Vertebrates: The Visual System
    The Approachable Retina
    Retinal Development and Evolution
2. Retinal Cells and Information Processing
    Cellular Organization
    Classification of Retinal Neurons
        Photoreceptor Cells
        Horizontal Cells
        Bipolar Cells
        Amacrine Cells
        Interplexiform Cells
        Ganglion Cells
    Retinal Processing
    Ganglion Cell Receptive Fields
3. Wiring of the Retina
    Retinal Synapses
        Conventional Synapses
        Ribbon Synapses
        Basal Junctions
        Gap Junctions
    Other Junctions
    Synaptic Organization
        Outer Plexiform Layer
            Photoreceptor Terminals
            Horizontal Cells
            Interplexiform Cells
        Inner Plexiform Layer
            Bipolar Cells
            Amacrine Cells
            Centrifugal Fibers
    Glial Cells
        Müller Cells
            Astrocytes and Microglia
    Comparative Aspects of Synaptic Organization
        Physiological Correlations
    Generalized Schemes of the Synaptic Organization of the Vertebrate Retina
        Central Primate Retina
4. Neuronal Responses
    Intracellular Recordings
        Receptors: Light Responses and Their Interactions
        Horizontal Cells: Electrical Coupling and Receptive Field Size
        Bipolar Cells: Center-Surround Organization
        Amacrine Cells: Transient and Sustained Responses
        Interplexiform Cells
        Ganglion Cells
    Functional Organization of the Retina
        On- and Off-center Ganglion Cells
        Directionally Selective Ganglion Cells
        Intrinsically Light-Sensitive Ganglion Cells
        Generation of Other Types of Ganglion Cell Receptive Fields and Responses
5. Synaptic Mechanisms and Chemistry
    Distal Retinal Synaptic Mechanisms
    Retinal Neurotransmission
        Photoreceptors and L-Glutamate
        Horizontal Cells
        Bipolar Cells
        Amacrine Cells
            GABA and Glycine
        Monoamines and Dopamine
        Dopaminergic Interplexiform Cells in Teleosts
            Diverse Effects of Dopamine
        Unconventional Neuromodulators
6. Photoreceptor Mechanisms and Visual Adaptation
    Discovery of the Visual Pigments
    Vision and Vitamin A
    The Action of Light and Visual Pigment Intermediates
    Regeneration of Visual Pigments
    Visual Adaptation
        Photochemical Dark Adaptation
        Photoreceptor Light Adaptation
        Network Mechanisms
7. Color Vision
    Cones and Color Vision
    Evolution of Color Vision
    Color Blindness
    Visual Pigment Gene Families
    Neural Processing of Color
        Red/Green Opponency
        Blue/Yellow Opponency
    Color Mechanisms in Other Species
8. Retinal Degenerations, Electroretinography, and Genetics
    Nutritional Night Blindness and Vitamin A Deficiency
    Studying Retinal Degenerations: The Electroretinogram
        The b-Wave
        The a-Wave
        The c-Wave
        Minor Components: The Oscillatory Potentials
    Inherited Retinal Degenerations
        Retinitis Pigmentosa
    Animal Models
        Inducing Retinal Mutations
        Chemical Screens
9. Retinal and Brain Mechanisms
    Local-Circuit Neurons
    Graded-Potential Neurons
    Electrical Coupling
    Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators
    Novel Synaptic Mechanisms
    Receptive Field Mechanisms
    Unsolved Problems and the Future

Customer Reviews


John E. Dowling is Gordon and Llura Gund Professor of Neurosciences at Harvard University, and Professor of Ophthalmology (Neuroscience) at Harvard Medical School. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, The American Philosophical Society, and The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also has won The Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research, the Paul Kayser International Eye Research Award of the International Society for Eye Research, and the Glenn A. Fry Medal in Physiological Optics.

By: John E Dowling(Author)
384 pages, 12 colour photos, 145 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: Belknap Press
Media reviews

"John Dowling's The Retina has been the most well-known and widely read introduction to the structure and function of retinal cells and circuits. This revised edition provides exciting new insights about the retina. This is a 'must read' for all retinal researchers."
– Botond Roska, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research.

"Most attempts at generalizations about the retina require seemingly endless qualifications, not because of the retina's complexity, but because of the extensive number of experimental preparations used to study it, from hagfish to human, from tissue culture to in vivo preparations. Yet the advantage of studying the retina is that its output can be related directly to its natural input and this input can be controlled exquisitely. This is the take-home message of John Dowling's highly worthwhile and successful revision of his classic work. Like the first edition in its emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach, the new edition of The Retina offers the best overview available of what we know about the functional organization of the retina."
– Stephen Yazulla, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Professor of Ophthalmology, Stony Brook University

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