Top: Maximum-points projections of confocal images of parasol (blue) and midget (yellow) ganglion cells.

Bottom: simultaneously measured excitatory synaptic inputs to the parasol (blue) and the midget (yellow) in the presence of a steady photopic background light. The dendritic overlap allows to predict the strength of noise correlations in excitatory inputs

(Ala-Laurila et al., Nat. Neurosci., 2011)


Our Goal

... is to utilize the neural circuits of the retina to reveal fundamental principles of neural computations at quantal resolution.

Research Overview

Our ability to see in vastly varying conditions depends critically on the outstanding performance of vision. Vision begins in the neural circuits of the retina, which operates with a remarkable fidelity. We study novel signal processing mechanisms and their adaptive dynamics at the synaptic and cellular-element level across the entire neural circuit of the retina.We do so by combining a battery of techniques allowing precise manipulations of local signal and noise statistics in a well-defined retinal circuit relying on genetically modified mice, molecularly tailored artificial visual pigment molecules, and cutting- edge electrophysiological recording techniques. We seek to understand the functional implications of novel retinal signal processing mechanisms by correlating our results with the output of the entire visual system measured in mouse behavioral experiments and human psychophysics experiments.


Note: You are using the Firefox browser. If you are on a Mac and the PDF files are blank and/or can't be downloaded click here for instructions from the firefox support website.

Ala-Laurila P. (2016). Visual Neuroscience: How Do Moths See to Fly at Night? Current Biology 26, R229–R246. [PDF]

Vartanian G.V., Li B.Y., Chervenak A.P., Walch O.J., Pack W., Ala-Laurila P. & Wong K.Y. (2015). Melatonin Suppression by Light in Humans Is More Sensitive Than Previously Reported. J Biol Rhythms 30, 351-354. [PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P. & Rieke, F (2014). Coincidence Detection of Single-Photon Responses in the Inner Retina at the Sensitivity Limit of Vision. Current Biology 24, 2888-2898.

Ala-Laurila, P., Greschner, M., Chichilnisky & Rieke, F (2011). Cone photoreceptor contributions to noise and correlations in the retinal output. Nature Neuroscience 14, 1309-1316.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Cornwall, M.C., Crouch, R.K., & Kono, M. (2009). The action of 11-cisretinol on cone opsins and intact cone photoreceptors. J Biol Chem 284, 16492-16500.[PDF]

Estevez, M.E., Kolesnikov, A.V., Ala-Laurila, P., Crouch, R.K., Govardovskii, V.I., & Cornwall, M.C. (2009). The 9-methyl group of retinal is essential for rapid Meta II decay and phototransduction quenching in red cones. J Gen Physiol 134, 137-150.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Donner, K., Crouch, R.K., & Cornwall, M.C. (2007). Chromophore Switch from 11-cis-dehydroretinal (A2) to 11-cis-retinal (A1) Decreases Dark Noise in Salamander Red Rods. J Physiol 585, 57-74.[PDF]

Cornwall M.C., & Ala-Laurila P. (2007). A perfect marriage: molecular genetics ties the knot with electrophysiology in studies of visual transduction. J Gen Physiol 130, 7-10.[PDF]

Jokela-Määttä, M., Smura, T., Aaltonen, A., Ala-Laurila, P., & Donner, K. (2006). Visual pigments of Baltic Sea fishes of marine and limnic origin. Vis Neurosci 24, 389-398.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Kolesnikov, A.V., Crouch, R.K., Tsina, E., Shukolyukov, S.A., Govardovskii, V.I., Koutalos, Y., Wiggert, B., Estevez, M.E., & Cornwall, M.C. (2006). Visual cycle: dependence of retinol production and removal on photoproduct decay and cell morphology. J Gen Physiol 128, 153-169. [ PDF | JOURNAL COVER | COMMENTARY | HIGHLIGHTS FROM LITERATURE | PAUL F. CRANEFIELD AWARD ]

Kolesnikov, A.V., Ala-Laurila, P., Shukolyukov, S.A., Crouch, R.K., Wiggert, B., Estevez, M.E., Govardovskii, V.I., & Cornwall, M.C. (2006). Visual cycle and its metabolic support in gecko photoreceptors. Vision Res 47, 363-374.[PDF]

Estevez, M.E., Ala-Laurila, P., Crouch, R.K., & Cornwall, M.C. (2006). Turning Cones Off: The Role of the 9-Methyl Group of Retinal in Red Cones. J Gen Physiol 128, 671-685.[PDF]

Pahlberg, J., Lindström, M., Ala-Laurila, P., Fyhrquist-Vanni, N., Koskelainen, A., & Donner, K. (2005). The photoactivation energy of the visual pigment in two spectrally different populations of Mysis relicta (Crustacea, Mysida). J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol 191, 837-844.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Donner, K., & Koskelainen, A. (2004). Thermal activation and photoactivation of visual pigments. Biophys J 86, 3653-3662.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Pahlberg, J., Koskelainen, A., & Donner, K. (2004). On the relation between the photoactivation energy and the absorbance spectrum of visual pigments. Vision Res 44, 2153-2158.[PDF]

Tsina, E., Chen, C., Koutalos, Y., Ala-Laurila, P., Tsacopoulos, M., Wiggert, B., Crouch, R.K., & Cornwall, M.C. (2004). Physiological and microfluorometric studies of reduction and clearance of retinal in bleached rod photoreceptors. J Gen Physiol 124, 429-443.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Albert, R.-J., Saarinen, P., Koskelainen, A., & Donner, K. (2003). The thermal contribution to photoactivation in A2 visual pigments studied by temperature effects on spectral properties. Vis Neurosci 20, 411-419.[PDF]

Ala-Laurila, P., Saarinen, P., Albert, R., Koskelainen, A., & Donner, K. (2002). Temperature effects on spectral properties of red and green rods in toad retina. Vis Neurosci 19, 781-792.[PDF]

Koskelainen, A., Ala-Laurila, P., Fyhrquist, N., & Donner, K. (2000): Measurement of thermal contribution to photoreceptor sensitivity. Nature 403, 220-223. [ PDF | COMMENTARY ]

Open Positions

We have currently no available positions. However, we are always interested in hearing from talented people with high motivation in neuroscience. For postdoc candidates, previous experience in patch clamp electrophysiology and/or computational neuroscience is valued. For more information, please send an email to Petri Ala-Laurila including your CV, statement of research interests and the names of potential references:

Ala Laurila's team


Former Members

Petri Ala-Laurila

Academy Research Fellow & PI
Department of Biosciences
P.O. Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1)
FIN-00014, University of Helsinki

Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering
Aalto University School of Science
P.O. Box 12200 (Rakentajanaukio 2C)
FI-00076 AALTO