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William Charles Hall

Professor Emeritus of Neurobiology
Box 3209 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
327D Bryan Res Bldg, Durham, NC 27710


The superior colliculus, a phylogenetically ancient structure on the roof of the midbrain, provides a model system for study of one of the most fundamental problems in neurobiology-how sensory systems interact with motor systems to produce adaptive behavior. Many types of experiments indicate that the superior colliculus receives input from exteroceptive sensory systems and gives rise to efferent pathways to the motor areas of the brainstem and spinal cord that are involved in initiating orienting movements of the head and eyes. Dr. Hall's research is devoted to understanding the circuits that generate visually guided head and eye movements. The superior colliculus is a layered structure and these layers are a key to understanding the neural basis for its visuomotor functions. For example, projections from the retina terminate in one set of layers, whereas the major efferent motor pathways that initiate orienting movements of the head and eyes arise in another set. Since the sensory and motor layers are juxtaposed in the same structure, we can use in vitro methods to study their interactions. We use whole-cell patch-clamp recording methods together with either electrical or photostimulation to study the functional relationships between these layers in living brain slices. Intracellular labels that diffuse into the cells from the patch-clamp pipette allow us to correlate the physiology of the cells with their morphology and location within the layers.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Professor Emeritus of Neurobiology · 2016 - Present Neurobiology, Basic Science Departments

Education, Training & Certifications

Duke University · 1967 Ph.D.