Salk Institute

Center for the Neurobiology of Vision

National Eye Institute Center for the Neurobiology of Vision

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is home to one of the world's premier research communities in neuroscience. In the mid-1980s, our faculty elected to focus resources on the visual system as a model for studies of brain structure and function. To that end, we have systematically expanded our vision research center over the past two decades; cultivating research programs that employ a variety of experimental approaches - molecular, genetic, cellular, systems, and computational - and address the neural structures and events that underlie visual sensation, perception, cognition, visually guided behavior, visual plasticity, learning, memory and development.

The product of this development is the Center for the Neurobiology of Vision, which was designated as a basic research center by the National Eye Institute in 2009. Thomas Albright is the director of the Center, which is comprised of 15 independent investigators.

Strengths of the Center


  • Research programs that span nearly the full range of visual processing stages, from the retina through object recognition and visual-motor control, and which address the development and plasticity of these processing stages.
  • Multiple levels of experimental analysis, ranging from molecular genetic investigations through studies of individual cells and their interactions, small neuronal circuits, larger neuronal systems, and behavior.
  • A multidisciplinary experimental approach, which includes traditional anatomical, physiological, and behavioral techniques, as well as novel methods (such as functional MRI, and state-of-the-art molecular genetic tools for circuit tracing and manipulation of cell function) and theoretical frameworks, many of which have been pioneered by researchers at Salk.
  • Emphasis on clinical disorders of visual perception and visually guided behavior, such as Williams Syndrome and Autism.

These research programs are extraordinarily well integrated and complementary and - not surprisingly - they compose a scientific community that has been highly productive and progressive in its approach, with an unusual degree of collaboration on topics of shared interest.


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