University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor United States
This grant supported work exploring subconscious vision through mathematical modeling. Mathematical modeling has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of conscious vision. Recently, a separate subconscious visual system was discovered in the retina, mediated by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells ipRGCs which can function in the absence of rods and cones. We used mathematics to classify the responses of ipRGCs and developed mathematical models of their electrical activity. We then developed numerical methods that allowed for a large scale simulation of the entire retina. Studying a target of ipRGCs, the suprachiasmatic nucleus SCN, which forms the central daily circadian clock in the brain, we showed that the SCN processes subconscious visual information to enhance visual function. Further studying the effects of light on circadian timekeeping, we developed a smartphone app, Entrain, to help adjust human circadian rhythms. This app was installed nearly 200,000 times. Data collected from the app resulted in one of the largest studies of human sleep.