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Andrew Huberman


All of our behaviors, thoughts and perceptions stem from the activity of neural circuits: highly precise sets of connections formed between specific types of neurons.

The three major goals of our laboratory are to:

  1. Understand the functional architecture of the neural circuits that enable us to see and respond to particular aspects of the visual environment
  2. Discover how those circuits achieve specificity of their connections during development
  3. Develop strategies to replenish functional visual circuits in response to injury or disease

A cornerstone our work is the identification of genes that are selectively expressed by functionally specialized neurons in the eye and brain. This allows us to delineate the specific circuit connections made by those neurons and to monitor and manipulate their activity during perceptual and behavioral tasks. It also allows us to probe the genes used by those neurons during development to find and form connections with their appropriate synaptic partners.

Extending from these studies of the healthy brain is the exciting opportunity to address whether the mechanisms that assemble functionally precise visual circuits during development can be reactivated in response to diseases that normally cause irreversible blindness, such as glaucoma. To that end, we are using molecular genetic approaches to preserve and re-wire damaged visual circuits, and then testing what sorts of visual perceptions and behaviors those circuits can support.

A genetically identified retinal ganglion cell (RGC) expressing green fluorescent protein. In red are the processes of the interneurons that connect with this RGC and in blue are other RGCs and interneurons. RGCs such as this one connect to the brain and thus are essential for vision.


Research Papers

  • Birthdate and outgrowth timing predict cellular mechanisms of axon-target matching in the developing visual pathway. Cell Reports (2014) Vol. 8 (4): 1006-1017. [cover article]
  • A dedicated circuit links direction selective retinal ganglion cells to primary visual cortex. Nature (2014) Vol. 507: 358-361. [cover article]
  • Genetic dissection of retinal inputs to brainstem nuclei controlling image stabilization. Journal of Neuroscience (2013) Vol. 33 (45): 17797-17813. [featured article]
  • Diverse visual features encoded in mouse lateral geniculate nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience (2013) Vol. 33 (11): 4642-56.
  • Transsynaptic tracing with vesicular stomatitis virus reveals novel retinal circuitry. Journal of Neuroscience (2013) Vol. 33 (1): 35-51.
  • Cadherin-6 mediates axon-target matching in a non-image-forming visual circuit. Neuron (2011) Vol. 71 (4): 632-9. [featured article]
  • Pathway-specific genetic attenuation of glutamate release alters select features of competition-based circuit refinement. Neuron (2011) Vol. 71(2):235-42.
  • Transgenic mice reveal unexpected diversity of on-off direction selective retinal ganglion cell subtypes and brain structures involved in motion processing. Journal of Neuroscience (2011) Vol. 31(24): 8760-9.
  • The Down syndrome critical region regulates retinogeniculate refinement. Journal of Neuroscience (2011) Apr 13;31(15):5764-76.
  • Emergence of lamina-specific retinal ganglion cell connectivity by axon arbor retraction and synapse elimination. Journal of Neuroscience (2010) Dec 1;30(48):16376-82.
  • Genetic identification of an On-Off direction-selective retinal ganglion cell subtype reveals a layer-specific subcortical map of posterior motion. Neuron (2009) Vol. 62 (3): 327-34.
  • Architecture and activity-mediated refinement of axonal projections from a mosaic of genetically-identified retinal ganglion cells. Neuron (2008) Vol. 59 (3): 425-38. [featured article]
  • Spontaneous activity mediates development of ocular dominance columns and binocular receptive fields in V1. Neuron (2006) Vol. 52 (2): 247-54. [featured article]

Review Articles

  • Visual circuits: mouse retina no longer a level playing field. Current Biology (2014) Vol. 17: 155-156.
  • Retinal ganglion cell maps in the brain: implications for visual processing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology (2014) Vol. 24: 133-142.
  • Wiring visual circuits, one eye at a time. Nature Neuroscience (2012) Vol. 15 (2): 172-4.
  • What can mice tell us about how vision works? Trends in Neurosciences (2011) Vol. 34(9): 464-73.
  • Milestones and mechanisms for generating specific synaptic connections between the eyes and the brain. Current Topics in Developmental Biology (2010) Vol. 93: 229-59.
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms of lamina-specific axon targeting. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology (2010) Vol. 2(3): a001743.
  • Mammalian DSCAMs: They won't help you find a partner, but they'll guarantee you some personal space. Neuron (2009) Vol. 64(4): 441-3.
  • Mechanisms underlying development of visual maps and receptive fields. Annual Review of Neuroscience (2008) Vol. 31: 479-501.
  • Nob mice wave goodbye to eye-specific segregation. Neuron (2006) Vol. 50(2): 175-7.


Andrew Huberman received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UC Davis and carried out his postdoctoral training with Dr. Ben Barres in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Andrew was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow, and is currently a 2013 McKnight Scholar, a 2013 Pew Scholar, and faculty member in Biology and Neurosciences at UC San Diego.