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Multi-user equipment approved in grant 2022/00191-0: Retimap animal (Roland Consult)

Abstract

The full functioning of the visual system may be threatened by various pathological conditions - genetic, environmental, infectious, neurological, metabolic - throughout life, in childhood, or in aging. Instruments to evaluate this functioning in humans may be behavioral or electrophysiological. A characteristic of these instruments is that they are non-invasive and, based on information grounded in animal experimentation, they are able to test specific visual pathways, or visual subsystems, such as color vision or contrast vision. The comparison of the altered performance with that from healthy individuals brings information that helps to unravel the mechanisms of the disorders. Research with laboratory animals, which allows direct access to the affected tissues, proves and adds information in the same direction. In this project we propose several new fronts, in particular the study of the vision of elderly patients and patients exposed to pandemic viral infections such as Zika and COVID-19. Thus, we propose to continue our successful development of new protocols and/or methodologies to study the visual system in humans and animals, and in this phase, in addition to developing new tests, to apply the tests we already designed in various populations with different impairments. The application of this knowledge will provide the medical field with tools for early diagnosis and follow-up. The project will investigate the visual system through perceptual testing with psychophysical methods; visual electrophysiological protocols; color vision, contrast vision, visual perimetry, dark adaptation and pupillometry. Pupillometry will allow us to evaluate functions of the pigment melanopsin, discovered at the beginning of the century, which is responsible for the pupillary reflex to light, the circadian rhythm and several other functions, such as seasonal depression. The color vision experiments will be combined with the genetic determination of each individual's visual pigments and these molecular techniques will be extended to several questions linked to the evolution of color vision in vertebrates with emphasis on asking about environmental and circadian habit pressures in this evolution. Our knowledge of animal visual electrophysiology will allow us to test and evaluate the toxicity and efficacy of new drugs for retinal diseases. Finally, this electrophysiological knowledge will be used to evaluate a gene therapy treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The development of new psychological technologies for investigating basic mechanisms and ways of applying visual functions to understand mechanisms of visual sensations and perceptions, as well as possible behavioral markers of ophthalmological, neurological and psychiatric diseases are an important part of this project. Measures of second-order contrast sensitivity will allow us to better understand the functioning of visual cortical sensory and perceptual areas, expanding the level of understanding of spatial functions in vision. Similarly, measures of the contribution of local and global processing stimuli in sustained attention will aid in understanding the different contributions of psychophysical pathways mediated by magnocellular and parvocellular cells in visual attention. In addition, we propose to develop second-order measures for motion perception, looking for evidence for asymmetries between the contributions of ON and OFF subsystems of the primary visual pathway. The project involves the basic and clinical research sectors of several national institutions, such as UFPA, UFPB, UFRN, Faculdade de Medicina of USP, UFMG and INPA, and international institutions, such as Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, CNRS and Université Paris-Sud in France, Sommelweis University and Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, University of Toronto in Canada, Smithsonian Regional Research Institute in Panama and the University of Stocholm in Swed. (AU)

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