Seeing With a Few Photons: Bridging Cellular and Circuit Mechanisms With Perception

Roozbeh Kiani, Petri Ala-Laurila, Fred Rieke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


What is the relationship between the mechanistic operation of neural circuits and the behaviors that they support? This question has been difficult to answer in part because of the complexity of the behavioral tasks neural circuits subserve and the difficulty in translating this complexity into a clear quantifiable objective of the system. Behavioral tasks and objectives are often simpler for nearthresholdmsensory tasks. Near sensory threshold, the objective of a system becomes to detect the stimulus feature of interest, and
quantification of performance is straightforward. Such a focus on near-threshold tasks neglects some of the richness of behavior, but can allow for tight links between cellular and circuit mechanisms and behavioral performance. The ability of human observers to detect small numbers of photons is a well-studied example. This chapter summarizes progress toward understanding the neural mechanisms that enable and limit vision under these conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Senses: A Comprehensive Reference
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-805409-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


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