Research interests

My main interests are in the development of the nervous system. I use computational techniques to analyse experimental data and create models of how the nervous system develops. I currently focus on the retina as a model system for understanding neural development. The hope is that principles learnt from the retina will apply to other parts of the nervous system. Some of the topics I study are described below.

Retinotopic map formation

Retinotopic map projection


Neighbouring neurons in the retina project to neighbouring parts of their target (such as the superior colliculus in mouse). The mechanisms underlying the development of these projections have long been debated. There are two major classes of mechanism:
  1. molecular gradients (such as those formed by Eph receptors and the correspondding) ephrin ligands.
  2. activity-dependent mechanisms whereby neighbouring neurons that fire-together, wire together.
Computational modelling has played an important role in helping understand how these mechanisms can generate ordered neural projections.

Retinal waves

Retinal waves at different ages Before the onset of vision, retinal ganglion cells are spontaneously active, producing waves of activity across the retina. Some example movies of these waves are available: Evelyne Sernagor, Matthias Hennig and I currently have a BBSRC grant to develop computational tools for the visualisation and analysis of data recorded from high-density multi-electrode arrays.

Retinal mosaics

Bivariate retinal mosaics

The cell bodies of retinal neurons are distributed non-randomly across the retina; such spatial patterns are known as "retinal mosaics" due to the way that the cell bodies, together with their dendrites, tile the retina. I am interested in the developmental mechanisms that drive such spatial patterning.

Here is a fun way of looking at tiling.

The retina

Some useful on-line starting points for looking at the retina are:

Analysis of neurophysiological data

I am one of the named investigators of the CARMEN project. My interest in this project is contributing methods for the analysis of multi-electrode array recordings. Some of this work is in collaboration with the Genes to Cognition project, led by Dr Seth Grant at the Sanger Institute.

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Dr Stephen Eglen
DAMTP, Centre for Mathematical Sciences
University of Cambridge
Wilberforce Road
Cambridge CB3 0WA UK
email address
Last modified: 2016-03-13