Paul R. Martin




PERSONNEL in 1994 AND 1995

Dr Paul R. Martin Lecturer (in-charge) University 1991-
Dr Ann Goodchild Research Officer NHMRC 1993-
Dr Ulrike Grünert Feodor Lynen Fellow/
Senior Research Associate
Humboldt Foundation
Jul 1994-
Krishna Ghosh PhD student ARC Scholarship 1994-
Heath Wilder MSc student 1994-
Tricia Chan BSc(Hons) student (MSc from '95) 1994-

Current effective full-time personnel = 6.0

The work of this Laboratory concerns the substrates of visual perception. The anatomical properties of cells in the retina are studied using immunocytochemical and other neuroanatomical methods. Extracellular recording and linear systems analysis of single cell activity are used to study the responses of cells in the subcortical visual pathways. The Laboratory maintains active international research collaborations in Germany and the United States.

PROJECTS in 1994

Analysis of small field and diffuse ganglion cells in the primate retina

The ganglion cells which project to the parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus carry chromatic opponent signals from the different cone types in the retina, and thus are essential for colour vision. In 1994 Ann Goodchild and Krishna Ghosh found that a New World primate, the marmoset Callithrix jacchus contains cells which have practically identical morphology and dendritic field size as the small field bistratified cell described in the retina of macaque monkeys and humans (see figure). In these Old World primates, the small bistratified cell carries signals from short wavelength sensitive ('blue') cones. These results suggest that this pathway is a conserved feature of primate vision. These experiments were carried out in collaboration with Ann Sefton.

Retinal ganglion cell density in dichromatic and trichromatic marmosets

In collaboration with Barry Lee from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany and Ulrike Grünert from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany (now a Von Humboldt foundation/ARC Senior Research Associate in the Laboratory), Heath Wilder measured the sampling density of ganglion cells in dichromatic (colour blind) and trichromatic marmosets. They showed that all marmosets have a very high effective sampling density of ganglion cell in the fovea (see figure), thus supporting the Lab's hypothesis that trichromacy is not accompanied by overt changes in retinal cell populations. The central to peripheral ganglion cell density gradient is close to 900:1. This is close to recent estimates for Old World primates and is further evidence that this species can serve as a good model for human vision.
The left panel shows the spatial density of ganglion cells, cone pedicles and cone photoreceptors in the retina of a dichromatic marmoset. The sampling density of ganglion cells is over twice that of cone receptors within the first millimeter of the fovea. The right panel shows the dendritic field diameter of ganglion cells in the marmoset retina. The wide-field group C includes the small field bistratified cells. These cells have the same relative size as their counterparts in Old World monkey retina.
Responses of cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus of dichromatic and trichromatic marmosets

In collaboration with Barry Lee in Germany, and Iris Yeh from Northeastern University in the United States, the responses of cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus of dichromatic and trichromatic marmosets were recorded. Parvocellular cells in trichromatic females showed similar properties to those in Old World primates. The responses of cells in both di- and trichromatic animals could be accounted for using a linear phase summation model developed for macaque monkey. Cells in dichromat animals had quite different properties to cells in other dichromat species studied such as cat, suggesting that the parvocellular system may be unique to the primates.

Horizontal cells in the marmoset retina

Horizontal cells mediate spatial interactions between cones and bipolar cells in the outer retina. In 1994 Tricia Chan and Annie Goodchild showed that the same two types of horizontal cells found in Old World primate retina are present in dichromatic marmosets, suggesting that the bipartite division is not associated with the acquisition of trichromacy. Experiments are now underway to establish the cone connectivity of these cells.


Heath Wilder and Andrew White have developed a stimulating and recording system which allows simultaneous recording of action potentials from up to four cells. The Lab will make high density recordings in the lateral geniculate of marmosets to determine whether different functional cell groups are located in different subdivisions of the geniculate. The retinas from these animals will be processed to examine the morphology of horizontal, bipolar and ganglion cells in relation to blue and red-green cone pathways within the retina.


Anatomical substrates of colour vision:
Dr Ulrike Grünert and Prof. Heinz Wässle, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (1992-present).

Luminance and chromatic contrast sensitivity in the Marmoset lateral geniculate nucleus:
Prof. Barry Lee, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany (1993-present); Dr Iris Yeh, Northeastern Univ., USA (1994-present).


The Laboratory is located in room 419 of the Anderson Stuart Building. It has all of the electrophysiological equipment required for recording and analyzing single cell activity in the visual system: life support apparatus, stereotaxic headholder, micro-drives, fundus camera, projector- and video-based visual stimulators, two-channel recording system for action potentials, Macintosh computers for data acquisition and analysis, micro-electrode-making equipment and Zeiss FSM fixed stage microscope for injecting single cells in fixed or living tissue.



Grant applications: for NHMRC (2), ARC (1).

Conference organizer

Assistant Local Secretary for the Australian Neuroscience Society Meeting, Sydney (Feb).

Invited lectures

Local: Univ. of Newcastle (May).

Overseas: Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, Saxons River, VT, USA (Jul).

International conference attended

Federation of Societies of Experimental Biology, Saxons River, VT, USA (Jul).

Visiting Fellowship

Visiting Fellow at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU, Canberra (from 1993).



Chan T (1994) Structure and function of horizontal cells in the primate retina. (Result: 2nd Class, Div. 1)


Postgraduate Medical Foundation, K. Ghosh, from 1995.


(Appointed in 1991; publications prior to 1991 arose from work at the Max Planck Institute, Germany)



FUNDING in 1994 and 1995

NHMRC The visual system in dichromatic
and trichromatic marmoset monkeys
(*Lab share (70%) = $42,944)
Martin PR 1993
Sefton AJ 1994 *$61,334
1995 *$61,334

ARC Colour information processing in
the primate retina
Martin PR 1995 $50,000
Grünert U 1996 $50,000

Total for 1994: $42,944

Total for 1995: $92,944





Medical Science 3/Science 3: Neuroscience

Lectures: 11, on neurophysiology of vision.

Practical classes: 2 of 3 h each, presented twice, involving computer-based teaching of image processing and psychophysical testing of visual function.

Paper sessions: 6, of 1 h, in which students presented papers from the scientific literature.

Medical Science 3: Advanced Neurosciences

Assistant course supervisor

Lectures: 1, on vision.

Discussion sessions: 18, each of 2 h, in which students presented and discussed papers from the scientific literature and 12 practicals, each of 3 h.

Tutorials: 12, each of 3 h.

Examination: Short essay question.

Medicine 3: Neurosciences

Lectures: 2, in Distinction course, on vision.

Practical classes: 6, each of 2 h, on vision/ ophthalmoscope.

Dentistry 2/Science 2/Science 2 Auxiliary

Lectures: 18: 12, on neurophysiology and 6 on gastrointestinal physiology (taught concurrently to Dentistry 2, Science 2 and Science 2 Auxiliary).

Practical classes: 1, of 3 h, presented 4 times, on cutaneous sensation, reflexes and vision/ ophthalmoscope (for Dentistry 2 and Science 2 only).

Tutorials: 7: 2 on neurophysiology, 1 on gastrointestinal physiology, to all classes; 4 on cutaneous sensation (for Dentistry 2 and Science 2 only).

Quizzes: 3, on lecture material, using sample examination questions.

Examination: Multiple choice and short essay questions.


Sc 3 AdvN Med 3 Dent2/
Lectures 11 2 1 11 32
Practicals (no.) 12 (4) 36 (18) 12 (6) 12 (4)* 72
Tutorials/discussion groups (no.) 6 36 (12) - 9 51

* 4 practicals to Dent2 & Sc2 only

9 tutorials to Sc2 and ScAux only

Total formal contact teaching time = 155 h

Time was also spent on lecture preparation, setting and marking exams and essays and answering student queries.

External teaching

To Save Sight Institute: 4 h of lectures given for Opthalmology basic science course (Jun).