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Self-organizing Neural Maps: The Retinotectal Map and Mechanisms of Neural Development - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128185797, 9780128185803

Self-organizing Neural Maps: The Retinotectal Map and Mechanisms of Neural Development

1st Edition

From Retina to Tectum

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Author: John Schmidt
Paperback ISBN: 9780128185797
eBook ISBN: 9780128185803
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 15th October 2019
Page Count: 472
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Self-organizing Neural Maps: From Retina to Tectum describes the underlying processes that determine how retinal fibers self-organize into an orderly visual map. The formation of neural maps is a fundamental organizing concept in neurodevelopment that can shed light on developmental mechanisms and the functions of genes elsewhere. The book presents a summary of research in the retinotectal field with an ultimate goal of synthesizing how underlying mechanisms in neural development harmoniously come together to create life. A broad spectrum of neuroscientists and biomedical scientists with differing backgrounds and varied expertise will find this book useful.

Key Features

  • Describes the mechanisms relating to the developmental wiring of the retinotectal system
  • Brings together the state-of-the-art research in axon guidance and neuronal activity mechanisms in map formation
  • Focuses on topographical maps and inclusion of multiple animal models, from fish to mammals
  • Explores the molecular guidance and activity dependent cue components involved in neurodevelopment


Graduate students, neuroscientists, neurobiologists, and anyone new to the field of neuroscience; physicians, neurologists, psychologists,  computational neuroscientists, bioengineers

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Overview and Basics of the Retinotectal Projection
 A. Overview of development of neural circuits.
 B. The mature Retinotectal Projection
 C. Advantages of studying the Retinotectal System: accessible, easy to manipulate
 D. Sperry's early Chemoaffinity theory of map formation
 E. Organizational overview of the material

Chapter 2: Early Work Supports, but Also Contradicts, Rigid Chemoaffinity
 A. Grafted eyes regenerate optic nerves to restore vision
 B. Optic Nerve Regeneration restores original connections even when maladaptive
 C. Behavioral evidence of the retinotectal map and its faithful regeneration
 D. Regeneration with single axis reversals
 E. Embryonic Eye Rotations and the onset of polarization in development
 F. Electrophysiological mapping demonstrates regeneration of the map
 G. Anatomical mapping of the retinotectal projection
 H. "Compound” eyes demonstrate the inadequacy of rigid chemoaffinity
 I. Qualitative Models of Map Formation
 J. Conclusions

Chapter 3: The search for chemoaffinity molecules—verification of molecular gradients
 A. Using monoclonal antibodies to search for chemoaffinity molecules
 B. Culture assays of retinal fiber preferences in tectum
 C. The genetic approach defines Eph receptors and ephrin ligand families
 D. Eph and ephrin family members and revised nomenclature
 E. Simple model of how gradients can determine the RT map
 F. Conclusions

Chapter 4: Plasticity after surgical ablations shows the limits of chemoaffinity
 A. Size disparity: Compression of the whole projection onto a half tectum
 B. Size disparity: half retinal projections expand across tectum
 C. Size disparity: induced binocular projections to one tectal lobe
 D. “Compound” eyes projections revisited
 E. Embryonic retinal ablations: further complications.
 F. Proposed quantitative computer models and what they can explain
 G. Summary of plasticity of retinotectal projections

Chapter 5: Natural Plasticity--Analysis of the effects of divergent retinal and tectal growth on the projection.
 A. Early morphogenesis of retina and tectum differ in their geometries
 B. Histogenesis of retina—cells added in an annulus around the edge
 C. Visual consequences of continued retinal growth
 D. Histogenesis of tectum and its control—cells added in crescent open on one end.
 E. The shifting connections hypothesis

Chapter 6: Specification and developmental genetics of Eph/ephrin gradients
 A. The developmental origins of retinal specification and expression of Eph/ephrin gradients
 B. The developmental origins of tectal specification

Chapter 7: Growth of retinal axons along the visual pathway
 A. Morphogenesis of Optic Cup and Optic Stalk during development
 B. Axonal outgrowth: pathfinding within retina
 C. Growth and order of axons in the optic nerve and tract
 D. The Ipsilateral RT projection from the ventrotemporal (VT) retinal axons in mammals
 E. How the initial projection to the tectum forms
 F. Implications for Theoretical Models

Chapter 8: Genetic Analysis of the molecular gradients defining map formation
 A. AP axis: The gradients of EphA receptors in retina and of ephrinA ligands in tectum
 B. DV axis: gradients of EphB & ephrinB in retina & tectum; plus other mechanisms

Chapter 9: Activity mechanisms shape central retinal projections
A. Early studies on nicotinic receptors, α-Bungarotoxin, modulation and synapse stabilization
 B. Activity-dependent map sharpening via NMDA receptors
 C. The role of activity in sensory map alignments—several cases with the same theme
 D. Role of activity in eye specific segregation

Chapter 10 Activity: Molecular signaling to growth mechanisms
 A. Dynamic analysis of arbor growth-- NMDAR-mediated effects on structure
 B. Plasticity mechanisms linked to Long Term Potentiation and LT Depression (LTP & LTD)
 C. Cam Kinase II and growth control in Xenopus tectum
 D.  LTP and LTD are coupled to BDNF and NO retrograde signaling in Xenopus
 E. LTP and LTD in mammalian tectum
 F. LTD is associated with NO signal and branch retraction in rodent tectum.
 G. LTP and BDNF effects in rodent and frog tectum
 H. F-actin based mechanisms control growth of new branches
 I. Summary of growth control mechanisms

Summary Chapter: Synopsis of Mechanisms Generating the Retinotectal Map
 A. Introduction:
 B. Little or no contributions from 3 mechanisms
 C. Three main mechanisms contribute to map formation
 D. Basic differences arise between anamniotes (fish/frog) and amniotes (chick/mammals)
 E. Rules apply to other visual, nonvisual structures
 F. These rules apply to the development of other visual and nonvisual projections
 G. Successful models incorporate both fiber-target and fiber-fiber gradients as well as activity


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© Academic Press 2020
15th October 2019
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
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About the Author

John Schmidt

Dr. Schmidt is Professor Emeritus at the University of Albany (SUNY) in the Department of Biological Sciences. He has worked in the retinotectal area since the early 1970s and published more than 60 articles and chapters. For the last four decades, he was Professor of Biological Sciences at SUNY-Albany, serving for 25 years as the Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research. In the 1990s, he together with Professor Jonathan Wolpaw organized an international conference on the wider subject and edited a volume of the proceedings for the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, entitled Activity-Driven CNS Changes in Learning and Development (Volume 627). This volume was the NY Academy’s bestselling issue of all time.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Albany

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