Nicholas V. Swindale

Nicholas V. Swindale, B.A. (CANTAB), D. PHIL (SUSSEX)

Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences


Basic Info


Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Mathematical Biology Program, Institute of Applied Mathematics



Research Description

I am interested in vision, and the development and organization of the primary visual cortex. This includes studying how the genes and environment interact in early post-natal development, how cellular mechanisms contribute to perceptual processing, and how disorders such as amblyopia and glaucoma may affect visual function. I use computer models to simulate developmental mechanisms, cats as experimental models for visual processing, and humans as subjects for psychophysical research. Present and past research projects include the following:

  • Application of neural net models to the formation of computational maps of ocular dominance and orientation columns in the visual cortex
  • Analysis of columnar organization in the cat visual cortex using optical recording of stimulus evoked neural activity
  • Multi-electrode recording methods for the comparison of receptive field properties in simultaneously recorded clusters of neurons
  • Quantitative analysis and modeling of spatial summation in simple and complex cell receptive fields in cat visual cortex
  • Physiological and psychophysical studies of the mechanisms of vernier hyperacuity
  • The development of clinically diagnostic psychophysical tests of visual function in glaucoma
  • Early detection of glaucoma using mathematical modelling of optic nerve head shape and neural network methods for classifying images as normal or glaucomatous.


Upper row: pseudocolor images of optic nerve head topography obtained with the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph; lower row: mathematical models of the same images, from which a Glaucoma Probability Score (GPS) can be calculated. See Swindale et al. (2000) IOVS, 1,1730.

Recent Publications

Spacek, M, Blanche, T, Swindale N (2009) Python for large-scale electrophysiology. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics , 2 (9), 1 – 10.

Godfrey, KB, Eglen SJ and Swindale, NV (2009) A multi-component model of the developing retinocollicular pathway incorporating axonal and synaptic growth.” PLoS Comput Biol. Dec ;5 (12):e1000600, 1 – 22.

Swindale, N.V. (2008) Feedback Decoding of Spatially Structured Population Activity in Cortical Maps. Neural Computation , 20 , 176-204

Godfrey, KB and Swindale, NV (2007) Retinal wave behaviour through activity dependent refractory periods. PLoS Computational Biology , 3 (11), 1 – 13.

Swindale, NV (2007) A model for the thick, thin and pale stripe organization of primate V2. Network: Computation in Neural Systems , 18 , 327-342.

Blanche, TJ, Spacek MA, Hetke JF, Swindale NV (2005) Polytrodes: High Density Silicon Electrode Arrays for Large Scale Multiunit Recording. J. Neurophysiol., 93, 2987-3000.

Swindale, N.V. (2004) How Different Feature Spaces may be Represented in Cortical Maps. Network, 15, 217-242.

Swindale, N.V., Grinvald A. and Shmuel A. (2003) The Spatial Pattern of Response Magnitude and Selectivity for Orientation and Direction in Cat Visual Cortex. Cerebral Cortex 13, 225-238.

Swindale, N.V., Stjepanovic, G., Chin A. & Mikelberg F.S. (2000) Automated analysis of normal and glaucomatous optic nerve head topography images. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 41, 1730-1742.