Elise Savier, Ph.D.

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate
Assistant Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology

7732B, MedSci II
1137 E. Catherine St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5622



Visual information from the retina targets multiple brain regions, including two image-forming centers, the dorsal lateral geniculate of the thalamus and the superior colliculus. These sets of connections form the primary and the secondary visual pathway respectively and have been investigated independently for decades. The flow of visual information meets at a later stage, in higher cortical areas. To this date, the respective role of each pathway remains unknown and a clear picture of the orchestrated process that is vision is still lacking. Major obstacles in understanding vision have been the lack of tools to conduct studies in awake animals, discrepancies in findings and approaches, and an oversimplified conceptual framework, in which visual information is processed linearly, from the periphery to the cortex.

One of the Savier lab's research goals is to understand how and why visual information is distributed in distinct brain centers and how our behaviors shape visual information. To this end, I will harness the power of a comparative approach in awake animals and directly compare the implementation of visual processes in mice and tree shrews. This comparative study will interrogate the role of each visual pathway by comparing the anatomy, the distribution of visual responses and how behavior shapes these responses. The development of recent molecular and neuromodulation tools will allow the isolation and manipulation of the same-cell-type across species, thus answering fundamental questions about the emergence of visual response properties and more generally on the neuronal encoding of visual information.

Areas of Interest

Neuroscience, Visual neuroscience, Visual system development, Tree shrews, Behavioral modulation

Honors & Awards

  • June 2021: K99 award: K99EY031783 “Integration of visual information and behavioral modulation in the superior colliculus”


  • 2013-2016: PhD, INCI, Strasbourg, France
  • 2011-2013: Master’s degree, Joint Master in Neuroscience, University of Strasbourg, France
  • 2010-2011: Bachelor’s degree, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Strasbourg, France
  • 2008-2010: 2-year technical degree in Biological and Biochemical Analysis, University of Nancy, France

Published Articles or Reviews

  1. Savier, E., Sedigh-Sarvestani, M., Wimmer, R., & Fitzpatrick, D. A bright future for the tree shrew in neuroscience research: Summary from the inaugural Tree Shrew Users Meeting. Zoological Research. (2021).
  2. Chen, H.*, Savier, E. L.*, DePiero, V. J. & Cang, J. Lack of Evidence for Stereotypical Direction Columns in the Mouse Superior Colliculus. J Neurosci. 41, 461-473 (2021).
  3. Savier, E. L., Dunbar, J., Cheung, K. & Reber, M. New insights on the modeling of the molecular mechanisms underlying neural maps alignment in the midbrain. eLife 9, e59754 (2020).
  4. Savier, E. L., Chen, H. & Cang, J. Effects of Locomotion on Visual Responses in the Mouse Superior Colliculus. J. Neurosci. 39, 9360–9368 (2019).

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