Connecting the Retina to the Brain

Lynda Erskine, Eloisa Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The visual system is beautifully crafted to transmit information of the external world to visual processing and cognitive centers in the brain. For visual information to be relayed to the brain, a series of axon pathfinding events must take place to ensure that the axons of retinal ganglion cells, the only neuronal cell type in the retina that sends axons out of the retina, find their way out of the eye to connect with targets in the brain. In the past few decades, the power of molecular and genetic tools, including the generation of genetically manipulated mouse lines, have multiplied our knowledge about the molecular mechanisms involved in the sculpting of the visual system. Here, we review major advances in our understanding of the mechanisms controlling the differentiation of RGCs, guidance of their axons from the retina to the primary visual centers, and the refinement processes essential for the establishment of topographic maps and eye-specific axon segregation. Human disorders, such as albinism and achiasmia, that impair RGC axon growth and guidance and, thus, the establishment of a fully functioning visual system will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalASN Neuro
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • axon guidance
  • growth cone
  • optic chiasm
  • retinal ganglion cell
  • topographic mapping
  • visual system


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