For millions of years mammals have needed to react to moving objects, from darting glimpses of predators or prey, to dodging swift moving taxis when crossing the road. Researchers have identified a type of nerve cell, or neuron, in mammalian eyes that is vital for motion detection. This microscopy picture shows a protein called VGluT3 (highlighted in blue) in a mouse retina. The red-coloured neuron is an amacrine cell loaded with VGluT3. Amacrine cells transfer electrical impulses from the eye towards the brain. Researchers believe that VGluT3-carrying amacrine cells help to detect motion, reacting when objects in the outside world move relative to their background scenery to fine-tune messages bound for the brain. It’s likely that other specialist types of amacrine cell exist – each shaping a different aspect of our vision – making these cells well worth keeping an eye on.
Written by John Ankers
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