Tiffany Schmidt Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Research Interests

Understanding Visual Circuits Using Electrophysiology, Behavior, and Anatomy in Mouse Models

Light is an important and ever-present regulator of physiology and behavior and is involved in processes as wide ranging as daily hormonal oscillations, pattern vision, sleep, attention, and circadian photoentrainment. But how are light signals relayed to the brain to mediate these complex visual behaviors? In mammals, all light information reaches the brain via projections from the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), of which there are ~20 subtypes in the retina. Therefore, to understand how light regulates behavior, we must understand: 1) How do RGC subtypes respond to different light stimuli? 2) What are the specific cellular targets of individual RGC subtypes in the brain? and 3) What are the functional contributions of RGC subtypes to defined visual behaviors?

We study these questions by looking at the role of RGC subtypes in specific visual functions. For example, the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which express the photopigment melanopsin, comprise five subtypes that drive a wide range of behaviors from circadian photoentrainment to contrast sensitivity for vision. The defined and quantitative behaviors in which these cells are involved and the myriad available genetic tools for the study of this system make it an ideal one in which to study the circuitry and role of ganglion cells in visual behavior. We do this using a range of techniques from electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, and behavioral approaches in various genetic mouse models.

Selected Publications

Loss of Gq/11 Genes Does Not Abolish Melanopsin Phototransduction. Chew KS, Schmidt TM, Rupp AC, Kofuji P, and Trimarchi JM. PLoS ONE. 2014 May 28;9(5):e98356.

A Role for Melanopsin in Alpha Retinal Ganglion Cells and Contrast DetectionSchmidt TM, Alam NM, Chen S, Kofuji P, Li W, Prusky GT, and Hattar S. Neuron. 2014 May 21;82(4):781-788.

Melanopsin-Positive Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells: From Form to FunctionSchmidt TM, Do MTH, Dacey D, Lucas R, Hattar S, and Matynia A. Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 November 9;31(45):16094-16101.

Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells: many subtypes, diverse functionsSchmidt TM, Chen S-K, and Hattar S. Trends in Neurosciences. 2011 November;34(11):572-580.

Structure and function of bistratified intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in the mouseSchmidt TM and Kofuji P. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 2011 June 1;519(8):1492-1504.

Intrinsic phototransduction persists in melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells lacking diacylglycerol-sensitive TRPC subunits. Perez-Leighton CE, Schmidt TM, Abramowitz J, Birnbaumer L, and Kofuji P. European Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 March ;33(5):856-867.

An Isolated Retinal Preparation to Record Light Response from Genetically Labeled Retinal Ganglion CellsSchmidt TM and Kofuji P. Journal of Visual Experimentation. 2011 January;47:e2367.

Differential Cone Pathway Influence on Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cell SubtypesSchmidt TM and Kofuji P. Journal of Neuroscience. 2010 December 1;30(48):16262-16271.

Functional and Morphological Differences among Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion CellsSchmidt TM and Kofuji P. Journal of Neuroscience. 2009 January 14;29(2):476-482.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Light Responses in Melanopsin-Expressing Ganglion Cells During Mouse DevelopmentSchmidt TM, Taniguchi K, and Kofuji P. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2008 July 1;100(1):371-384.

View all publications by Tiffany Schmidt listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed).