Elise Savier

Office Room:
Office Building:
Med Sci II
Person Type: 
Core Faculty
Developmental Neuroscience
Sensory Neuroscience

Associate Professor

Visual information from the retina targets multiple brain regions, including two image forming
centers, the dorsal lateral geniculate of the thalamus and the superior colliculus. These set of
connections form the primary and the secondary visual pathway respectively and have been
investigated independently for decades. The flow of visual information meets at a later stage, in
higher cortical areas. To this date, the respective role of each pathway remains unknown and a
clear picture of the orchestrated process that is vision is still lacking. Major obstacles in
understanding vision have been the lack of tools to conduct studies in awake animals,
discrepancies in findings and approaches, and an oversimplified conceptual framework, in which
visual information is processed linearly, from the periphery to the cortex.
One of the Savier lab research goal is to understand how and why visual information is
distributed in distinct brain centers and how visual information is shaped by our behaviors. To
this end, I will harness the power of a comparative approach in awake animals and directly
compare the implementation of visual processes in mice and tree shrews. This comparative study
will interrogate the role of each visual pathway by comparing the anatomy, the distribution of
visual response and how behavior shapes these responses. The development of recent molecular
and neuromodulation tools will allow the isolation and manipulation of the same-cell-type across
species, thus answering fundamental questions about the emergence of visual response properties
and more generally on the neuronal encoding of visual information.