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Biotech Science

Cells In the Retina Tile Like Puzzle Pieces 29

tim writes "Recent work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif. shows that cells in the retina sample visual space like a multi-layered jigsaw puzzle. High resolution measurements of light response reveal that individual cells have irregular shapes, but together their shapes coordinate to tightly cover visual space. This type of large scale, exquisite coordination could be a general organizing principle of the brain, but no one has seen it previously because technical obstacles typically prevent recording from large cell populations." Here's a link to full paper.
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Cells In the Retina Tile Like Puzzle Pieces

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:55PM (#27506433)

    They talk about an exquisite coordination that is finely tuned to prevent blind spots while avoiding overlap.

    Perhaps it is more like cells with random variation simply growing outward until reaching a neighboring cell at which point some chemical signaling occurs to establish a mutual border.

    Or maybe a time lapse of cell cultures would show an ever changing chemical war fighting over the borders like neighboring corals do.

    A system like this should provide maximal coverage with minimal overlap with no exquisite coordination beyond the individual cells.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:07PM (#27506589)

    I think the breakthrough here is not that the cells themselves fit together but that the individual fields they each sense are coordinated. Like one cell type senses a field that is circle shaped, the one right next to it, if it sensed a circle, would have overlap and would cause imaging problems, instead the cell right next to it senses a crescent shape, fitting with the one next to it to avoid overlap.


    These regions fit together like pieces of a puzzle, preventing "blind spot" and excessive overlap that could blur our perception of the world.

    How the cells come together is regulated but it still isn't like pixels, the junctions between the cells are not a perfect grid, there are irregularities. The cells compensate for that. I haven't read in depth but that seems to be the gist.

  • you're eye is just organically attracted, narcissistically, to patterns that resemble itself

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler