The visual system is a powerful model for probing the development, connectivity, and function of neural circuits. Two genetically tractable species, mice and flies, are together providing a great deal of understanding of these processes. Current efforts focus on integrating knowledge gained from three cross-fostering fields of research: (1) understanding how the fates of different cell types are specified during development, (2) revealing the synaptic connections between identified cell types ("connectomics") by high-resolution three-dimensional circuit anatomy, and (3) causal testing of how identified circuit elements contribute to visual perception and behavior. Here we discuss representative examples from fly and mouse models to illustrate the ongoing success of this tripartite strategy, focusing on the ways it is enhancing our understanding of visual processing and other sensory systems.
Keywords: cell types; circuitry; function; vision.
© 2014 Wernet et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.