Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function (Brain Function CoE).

ARC-supported investigator, Professor Michael Ibbotson, and PhD candidate Young Jun (Jason) Jung, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function at the University of Melbourne, are trying to determine why different mammalian species have evolved different systems in their brains to process vision.

By analysing the arrangement of a distinctive kind of nerve cell that recognises orientation, located in the brain's visual system, across numerous mammal species, the researchers were able to characterise the differences in animals with eyes at the front of their heads compared to those with eyes at the side. They also found species that were exceptions to the rule.

Based on what they found, the researchers have identified four mammal species that would be good targets for future study: a South-American rodent called an agouti, the fruit bat (or flying fox), the sheep, and the wallaby.

They now plan to use state-of-art techniques to determine how brain cells are organised in the visual system of the four shortlisted animals. By understanding how the animals organise visual information, they hope to gain important insights into how brain connectivity controls visual processing.

Photo credit: 

The fruit bat is proposed as a good target for future study of mammalian eyesight. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).