Light, Clocks and Sleep: The Discovery of a New Photoreceptor within the Eye Until the late 1990’s it seemed inconceivable to most vision biologists that there could be an unrecognised class of light sensor within the eye. After all, the eye was the best understood part of the central nervous system. One hundred and fifty years of research had explained how we see: Light is detected by the rods and cones of the retina and their responses are assembled into an “image” by inner retinal neurones, followed by advanced visual processing in the brain. This representation of the eye left no room for an additional class of ocular photoreceptor. However, work in a variety of animals, including mice and humans, overturned this conventional view of the eye. We now know that the rods and cones are not alone. Image courtesy of: Grégoire Lannoy from Flickr Creative Commons
Cambridge Neuroscience in association with the British Neuroscience Association was delighted to welcome Professor Russell Foster from the University of Oxford to deliver the public neuroscience lecture at the annual Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar, which was held on March 20th at the Babbage Lecture Theatre in Cambridge. Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford. Russell's research interests span the neurosciences but are currently focused upon two broad themes. The first relates to how environmental light is detected and processed by vertebrate photoreceptors. The second line of research relates to how circadian rhythms and sleep are generated and their disruption in mental illness and neurodegenerative disease.