Have you ever asked yourself, “I have two eyes, so why don’t I see double all the time?” The answer is nothing short of a miracle. Our brains somehow wire up in a precise way that integrates the two views of the world that we receive from both of our eyes such that we experience one cohesive picture of our environment. How could such critical wiring happen during development? This is a question Professor Carla Shatz has been asking for her incredible career as a neuroscientist. Carla is currently Professor of Neurobiology and Biology at Stanford, and her research has been pivotal in helping us understand the rich interplay between both genetic and experience-dependent mechanisms that set up the neural circuits in our visual system.
Carla joined me in a interview to talk about her groundbreaking research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of the visual system at the level of the retina, the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), and the primary visual cortex. We chatted about her research into retinal waves, the formation of eye-specific layers in the LGN, and ocular dominance columns in the primary visual cortex. We ended with a question about the role of the scientist in communicating to the public not only about their own research, but also to speak up and out on major global scientific issues we face as a society.