Jozsef Vigh, PhD
My research focuses on visual signal processing in the retina. I am interested in how and why retinal nerve cells communicate with each other. Like everywhere else in the central nervous system, communication between retinal neurons occurs at synapses. Synapses are neuron-specific connections, where chemicals (called neurotransmitters) are released by the presynaptic neuron and detected by receptors located on the postsynaptic neuron. How this transmitter is released, which transmitter is used, and what kind of receptor detects the transmitter outlines how these two neurons communicate. Overlying modulatory processes tune the basic mechanisms of communication to physiological needs. Synaptically coupled neurons form microcircuits, and ultimately determine how the retina codes for three fundamental features of our visual environment: contrast, color and motion.
In my lab, various retinal preparations (whole eye cup, slice and isolated cell) are investigated mainly with electrophysiological techniques (ERG, extracellular-, sharp electrode- and patch-clamp recordings) in order to answer how visual signals are processed. Current projects in the lab focus on the synaptic mechanism underlying contrast detection, feedback mechanisms in the inner retina, and modulation of glutamate release from bipolar cell terminals.
My formal teaching responsibilities lie in graduate education. I coordinate and teach most of the Neurons, Circuits and Behavior course (NB/BMS 505). I am also lecturing in team taught courses such as Physiology of Ion Channels (NB 750) and Biomolecular Tools for Bioengineers (BIOM 533). A substantial portion of my teaching activities takes place outside the classroom: in my lab undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are trained to conduct independent as well as collaborative research projects.
Vigh J, Vickers E, von Gersdorff H. 2011. Light-evoked lateral GABAergic inhibition at single bipolar cell synaptic terminals is driven by distinct retinal microcircuits. J Neurosci 31:15884-15893.
Gallagher SK, Witkovsky P, Roux MJ, Low MJ, Otero-Corchon V, Hentges ST, Vigh J. 2010. beta-Endorphin expression in the mouse retina. J Comp Neurol 518:3130-3148.
Vigh J, von Gersdorff H. 2005. Prolonged reciprocal signaling via NMDA and GABA receptors at a retinal ribbon synapse. J Neurosci 25:11412-23.
Vigh J, Li GL, Hull C, von Gersdorff H. 2005. Long-term plasticity mediated by mGluR1 at a retinal reciprocal synapse. Neuron 46:469-82.
Vigh J, Witkovsky P. 2004. Neurotransmitter actions on transient amacrine and ganglion cells of the turtle retina. Vis Neurosci 21:1-11.
Vigh J, Lasater EM. 2003. Intracellular calcium release resulting from mGluR1 receptor activation modulates GABAA currents in wide-field retinal amacrine cells: a study with caffeine. Eur J Neurosci 17:2237-48.
Vigh J, Solessio E, Morgans CW, Lasater EM. 2003. Ionic mechanisms mediating oscillatory membrane potentials in wide-field retinal amacrine cells. J Neurophysiol 90:431-43.