Visual System Courses

Students take courses required by their specific graduate program as well as electives decided upon by the student and faculty advisor. The first two courses below provide all trainees with a comprehensive overview of the structure and function of the visual system, as well as discuss current literature in vision research:

MCDB 452: The Visual System

This course is taught annually by Dr. Kwoon Wong in the Winter (Jan – Apr) semester. It focuses on understanding how the cellular properties of neurons and the pattern of synaptic connections between neurons allow the visual system to decipher incoming information. The course begins with a review of basic neurobiology concepts and methods, as well as an overview of the visual system. The rest of the first half of the course concentrates on visual processing in the retina, which is arguably the best understood part of the brain. The second half of the course surveys the processing of visual information beyond the retina, with an emphasis on the primary visual cortex. Throughout the course, various disorders affecting the visual system is also briefly discussed, and there are guest lectures on retinal development, gene therapy for retinal dystrophies, and clinical testing of visual function. A major focus of the lectures and paper discussions is to help students understand the experiments that led to the development of current views.

Ophthalmology 733: Specialized Topics in Vision Research

Drs. Steven Abcouwer and Patrice Fort serve as the course co-Directors. In each week, a faculty member introduces a specific vision-related topic (e.g. diabetic retinopathy), which is followed by student-led discussion of a journal article. This course covers basic and translational topics in alternate years.

PSYCH 347: Perception

This course, taught by Dr. Michael Snodgrass in the Department of Psychology, focuses on sensory systems and processes and how they shape the perception of the external world. The first two thirds of this course are dedicated to vision.