Martin Wilson

image of Martin Wilson

Professor emeritus


Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior

Offices and Labs

1163 Life Sciences Addition
(530) 752-7250

Profile Introduction

Synaptic transmission in the retina


1973 PhD (Zoology) University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
1970 BS (Zoology) University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Research Interests

My research concentrates on the way the vertebrate retina works. The retina is a fairly ordinary piece of brain but it has several unique advantages. First, the retina is easy to work with. Many retinae will stay alive and healthy in a dish. Second, the retina is not too complicated. There are only 5 main kinds of neuron in the retina and we understand in outline how they are wired together. Third, we know everything about what goes into the retina (patterns of light) and quite a lot about what comes out (patterns of activity in ganglion cells). Lastly, and perhaps most important, we understand what the retina is for. This crucial understanding allows us to consider how the neural machinery of the retina is designed to accomplish its task.

Synaptic transmission in the retina

Department and Center Affiliations

Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior
Center for Neuroscience, UC Davis

CBS Grad Group Affiliations


Specialties / Focus

  • Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology
  • Neurophysiology


  • Cynthia Weller

Teaching Interests

Neurobiology Dr. Wilson teaches several undergraduate classes in Neurobiology and is the organizer of the graduate Cell and Molecular Biology core course. In collaboration with Richard K. Grosberg in the section of Evolution and Ecology, Dr. Wilson teaches the "Future of Biology" course in spring quarter. Dr. Wilson is currently director of the biological core curriculum and is heading the reorganization of the undergraduate core biology curriculum.


NPB 100 Intro. to Neurbiology and Physiology (Spring)
BIS 198 Future of Biology (Spring)
NSC 221 Cell and Molecular Neurbiology (Spring)


5/21/2010 9:26:34 AM
  • 2003 Wilson M. Bassoon's Part in Two Presynaptic Orchestras. Neuron 37:728-730.
  • 2002 Wilson M. Smaller babies thrown out with bathwater. Current Biology 12: R625-7.
  • 2002 Hurtado J, Borges S, and Wilson M. The Na+-Ca2+ exchanger controls the gain of the Ca2+ amplifier in the dendrites of amacrine cells. J Neurophysiol 88: 2765-77.
  • 2002 Wilson M. Retinal synapses. In: L.M. Chalupa and J.S. Werner (Eds.) The Visual Neurosciences. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press. (in press)
  • 1999 Williams JR, Sharp JW, Kumari VG, Wilson M, and Payne JA. The neuron-specific K-Cl cotransporter, KCC2. Antibody development and initial characterization of the protein. J Biol Chem 30 274(18):12656-64.
  • 2000 Wilson M. A new labor agreement for the retina? Neuron 28(3):628-9.
  • 1999 Frerking M and Wilson M. Differences in uniquantal amplitude between sites reduce uniquantal variance when few release sites are active. Synapse 32(4):276-87.
  • 1997 Frerking M, Borges S, and Wilson M. Are some minis multiquantal? J Neurophysiol 78:1293-1304.
  • 1996 Frerking M and Wilson M. Effects of variance in mini amplitude on stimulus-evoked release: a comparison of two models. Biophys J 70:2078-2091.
  • 1996 Frerking M and Wilson M. Saturation of postsynaptic receptors at central synapses? Current Opinion in Neurobiology 6:395-403.
  • 1996 Borges S, Gleason E, Frerking M, and Wilson M. Neurotensin induces calcium oscillations in cultured amacrine cells. Visual Neuroscience 13:311-318.
  • 1995 Frerking M, Borges S, and Wilson M. Variation in GABA mini amplitude is the consequence of variation in transmitter concentration. Neuron 15:885-895.
  • 1995 Borges S, Gleason E, Turelli M, and Wilson M. The kinetics of quantal transmitter release from retinal amacrine cells. PNAS 92:6896-6900.
  • 1995 Gleason E, Borges S, and Wilson M. Electrogenic Na-Ca exchange clears Ca2+ loads from retinal amacrine cells in culture. Journal of Neuroscience 15:3612-3621.
  • 1994 Gleason E, Borges S, and Wilson M. Control of transmitter release from retinal amacrine cells by Ca2+ influx and efflux. Neuron 13:1109-1117.
  • 1993 Gleason E, Borges S, and Wilson M. Synaptic transmission between pairs of retinal amacrine cells in culture. Journal of Neuroscience 13:2359-2370.
  • 1993 Lenzi D, Radke K, and Wilson M. Symmetrical segregation of potassium channels at cytokinesis. Journal of Neurobiology 24:675-686.
  • 1992 Wilson M, and Borges S. Explaining lateral interactions in the retina with the help of models. pp163-175. F.H Eeckman (Ed.). Analysis and Modeling of Neural Systems. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • 1991 Gilbertson TA, Borges S, and Wilson M. The effects of glycine and GABA on isolated horizontal cells from the salamander retina. J Neurophysiol 66(6):2002-13.
  • 1991 Borges S, and Wilson M. Dual effect of glycine on horizontal cells of the salamander retina. J of Neurophysiology 66:1993-2001.
  • 1990 Borges S, and Wilson M. The lateral spread of signal between bipolar cells of the tiger salamander retina. Biological Cybernetics 63:45-50.
  • 1987 Attwell D, Borges S, Wu SM, and Wilson M. Signal clipping by the rod output synapse. Nature 328:522-524.
  • 1987 Borges S, and Wilson M. Structure of the receptive fields of bipolar cells in the salamander retina. J of Neurophysiology 58:1275-1291.