AnnouncementsSensory Systems

NIH awards $2.4 million to Max Planck Florida Institute scientist to investigate the function and development of cortical circuits in the brain

David Fitzpatrick Research, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

Work will focus on a newly discovered circuit in the visual cortex

Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director and CEO at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, has been awarded a $2.4 million five-year grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the functional organization and development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, specifically, in the area of brain responsible for processing visual information.

Research supported by this award will provide new insights into the mechanisms that cortical circuits use to reliably encode the different types of information that form the basis for visual perception. Using novel imaging technologies to visualize the activity of single neurons in the living brain, this work will explore a newly discovered circuit that responds selectively to changes in luminance. The experiments will probe how this circuit is organized, how it interacts with circuits that process other types of information, and how it forms during early postnatal life.

The cerebral cortex is the largest and most complex area of the brain, comprising 20 billion neurons and 60 trillion synapses–a neuronal network whose proper function is critical for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition.

“The knowledge gained from the research supported by this grant will further our understanding of cortical function and development, providing insights relevant for addressing disorders that impact visual processing, and a broader range of neurological and psychiatric disorders that derive from cortical circuit alterations,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick.

David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director, max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director, max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

This research is being supported by the NEI of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number R01EY011488. The content of this release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit