Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oh, pretty colors!

I've always enjoyed reading about the gamut of analytical techniques employed to investigate the intricate nature of things. I recently read an article from summarizing the work of Gauthier et al. on their study of the way high-resolution retinal impulses are transmitted to (and eventually translated by)the brain. I would imagine approaching this problem would seem to most an abstract attempt at elucidating human perception; however, this particular study generated some pretty straight-forward illustrations to help explain their conclusions. The authors made mosaic illustrations depicting how individual neural impulses collected as if pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each neural impulse was correlated to a "receptive field" or RF. As stated in their methods section, "RFs were mapped by computing the spike-triggered average (STA) stimulus obtained in the presence of a white noise stimulus." Then through some complicated mathematical prodding, Gauthier et al. gave us some pretty pictures (like the one above) to show us how high-resolution retinal signals accumulate for translation by the brain. How neat is that!?

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