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Nicholas Oesch, PhD

Assistant Research Scientist
Department of Psychology

Contact Information


Location: McGill Hall

Mailing Address:

University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive #0109
La Jolla, CA 92093

Lab Website

We are interested in how neurons process and represent information early in visual processing. The main goals of this work are to: 1.) Better understand and treat blindness and 2.) Gain a wider understanding of the mechanisms of information processing throughout the brain. The retina is an amazing model to study how neural circuits work because we can realistically control all of the inputs to the circuit (light), measure the entire output of the circuit (action potentials traveling down the optic nerve), and quantify the impact of the circuit on perception using simple behavior (visual psychophysics). We take an integrative approach to synthesize our understanding at the level of individual synapses, small circuits of neurons, and behavior. To accomplish this we use whole-cell electrophysiology, voltage and calcium imaging, and behavioral techniques.

Currently there are three broad and overlapping projects within the lab. First, we are interested in the basic synaptic and circuit mechanisms contributing to the computation of contrast information at early stages of retinal processing. Second, we are interested in understanding how retinal prosthetic strategies interact with native retinal processing during disease. Finally, we are interested in understanding how basic retinal processing contributes to and constrains simple visually guided behaviors.

Arroyo, O. M., & Oesch, N. W., Novel behavioral paradigm for efficient visual psychophysics in mice. In preparation.

Bosse, B., Damle, S., Akinin, A., Jing, Y., Bartsch, D. U., Cheng, L., Oesch, N. W., Cauwenerghs, G., Freeman, W. R. (2018). In Vivo photopvoltaic performance of a silicon nanowire photodiode based retinal prosthetic. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. pre print.

Graydon, C. W., Zhang, J., Oesch, N. W., Sousa, A. A., Leapman, R. D., & Diamond, J. S. (2014). Passive Diffusion as a Mechanism Underlying Ribbon Synapse Vesicle Release and Resupply. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(27), 8948–8962.

Oesch, N. W., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Ribbon synapses compute temporal contrast and encode luminance in retinal rod bipolar cells. Nature Neuroscience, 14(12), 1555–1561.

Grimes, W. N., Seal, R. P., Oesch, N., Edwards, R. H., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Genetic targeting and physiological features of VGLUT3+ amacrine cells. Visual Neuroscience, 28(5), 381–392.

Oesch, N. W., Kothmann, W. W., & Diamond, J. S. (2011). Illuminating synapses and circuitry in the retina. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 21(2), 238–244.

Oesch, N. W., & Taylor, W. R. (2010). Tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels contribute to directional responses in starburst amacrine cells. PLoS ONE, 5(8), e12447.

Schachter, M. J., Oesch, N. W., Smith, R. G., & Taylor, W. R. (2010). Dendritic spikes amplify the synaptic signal to enhance detection of motion in a simulation of the direction-selective ganglion cell. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(8).

Oesch, N. W., Euler, T., & Taylor, W. R. (2005). Direction-selective dendritic action potentials in rabbit retina. Neuron, 47(5), 739–750. Morgans, C. W., Bayley, P. R., Oesch, N. W., Ren, G., Akileswaran, L., & Taylor, W. R. (2005). Photoreceptor calcium channels: insight from night blindness. Visual Neuroscience, 22(5), 561–568.