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Michael Ariel, Ph.D.

Pharmacological and Physiological Science

Anatomy (Surgery), Ophthalmology


Washington University, 1980

Previous Positions

Schepens Eye Research Institute,
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Harvard University,

Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience,
University of Pittsburgh,

Assistant Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology,
Saint Louis University School of Medicine,

Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology,
Saint Louis University School of Medicine,

Visiting Professor
(sabbatical leave with Dr. Y. Yarom)
Neurobiology Department
Hebrew University
Jerusalem, Israel
2000-2001, 2009-2010

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology,
Saint Louis University School of Medicine,

Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Science
Saint Louis University School of Medicine,

Professor (secondary)
Anatomy (Department of Surgery),
Saint Louis University School of Medicine,


Dr. Ariel investigates how the brain processes sensory inputs by measuring neuronal activity in response to visual stimulation of the eye and head rotation. One goal of this research is to understand how these two sensory inputs control eye movements that lead to the perception of a stable visual world as we move our head or body through our environment. The experiments are performed on isolated neural tissues placed in a special chamber and exposed to natural sensory stimulation (rotation of the chamber or moving patterns of light). Electrophysiological and optical recordings are made from individual neurons and population of neurons in the brain stem, the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The results describe the complex synaptic interactions that occur between different neural pathways within the vertebrate brain.


Fan, T.X., Weber, A.E., Pickard, G.E., Faber, K.M. & Ariel, M. (1995) Visual responses and connectivity in the turtle pretectum. J. Neurophysiol. 73, 2507-2521.

Rosenberg, A.F. & Ariel, M. (1996). A model for optokinetic eye movements in turtles that incorporates properties of retinal slip neurons. Visual Neuroscience, 13, 375-383.

Ariel, M. (1997). Open-loop optokinetic responses of the turtle. Vision Res. 37, 925-933.

Fan, T.X., Scudder C.A. & Ariel, M. (1997). Neuronal responses to turtle head rotation in vitro. J. Neurobio. 33, 99-117.

Kogo, N. & Ariel, M. (1997). Membrane properties and monosynaptic retinal excitation of neurons in the turtle accessory optic system. J. Neurophysiol. 78, 614-627.

Kogo, N., Rubio, D.M. & Ariel, M. (1998). Direction-tuning of individual retinal inputs to the turtle accessory optic system. J. Neurosci. 18, 2673-2684.

Martin, J., Kogo, N. & Ariel, M. (1998). Morphology of basal optic tract terminals in the turtle, Pseudemys scripta elegans. J. Comp. Neurol. 393, 267-283.

Rosenberg, A.F. & Ariel, M. (1998). Analysis of direction-tuning curves of neurons in the turtle's accessory optic system. Exp. Brain Res. 121, 361-370.

Kogo, N. & Ariel, M. (1999). Synaptic response attenuation during coincident afferent excitatory inputs. J. Neurophysiol. 81, 2945-2955.

Ariel, M. & Kogo, N. (2001). Direction-tuning of inhibitory inputs to the turtle accessory optic system. J. Neurophysiol. 86, 2919-2930.

Kogo, N., Fan, T.X. & Ariel, M. (2002). Synaptic pharmacology in the turtle accessory optic system. Exp. Brain Res. 147, 464-472.

Weber, A., Martin, J. & Ariel, M. (2003). Efferent pathways from the turtle accessory optic system. Brain Res. 989:76-90.

Ariel, M., Fan, T.X. & Jones, M.S. (2003). Bilateral processing of vestibular responses revealed by injecting lidocaine into the eighth cranial nerve in vitro. Brain Res. 999:106-117.

Martin, J., Kogo, N., Fan, T.X., Ariel, M. (2003). Morphology of the turtle accessory optic system. Visual Neurosci. 20:639-649.

Tolbert, D.L., Conoyer, B. & Ariel, M. (2004). Quantitative analysis of granule cell axons and climbing fiber afferents in the turtle cerebellar cortex. Anatomy and Embryology, 209:49-58.

Ariel, M. (2005). Latencies of climbing fiber inputs to turtle cerebellar cortex. J. Neurophysiol. 93:1042-1054.

Ariel, M. & Kogo, N. (2005). Shunting inhibition in accessory optic system neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 93:1959-1969.

Martin, J. & Ariel, M. (2005). Localization of GABA markers in the turtle's basal optic nucleus. J. Neurophysiol. 93:1959-1969.

Ariel, M. (2006). Modulation of visual inputs to accessory optic system by theophylline during hypoxia. Exp. Brain Res. in press.

Ariel, M. (2006). Modulation of visual inputs to accessory optic system by theophylline during hypoxia. Exp. Brain Res. 172:351-360.

Jones, M.S & Ariel, M. (2006). The effects of unilateral eighth nerve block on fictive VOR in the turtle. Brain Res. 1094:149-162.

Ariel, M. & Johny, M.B. (2007). Analysis of quantal size of voltage responses to retinal stimulation in the accessory optic system. Brain Res. 1157: 41-55.

Jones, M.S & Ariel, M. (2008). Morphology, intrinsic membrane properties, and rotation-evoked responses of trochlear motoneurons in the turtle. J. Neurophysiol. 99, 1187-1200.

Brown, M.E. & Ariel, M. (2009). Topography and response timing of intact cerebellum stained with absorbance voltage-sensitive dye. J. Neurophysiol. 101, 474-490.

Ariel, M. Ward, K.C. & Tolbert, D.L. (2009). Topography of Purkinje cells and other calbindin-immunoreactive cells within adult and hatchling turtle cerebellum. Cerebellum, 8, 463-476.

Ariel, Michael, Brown, Michael, Origin and Timing of Voltage-Sensitive Dye Signals within layers of the Turtle Cerebellar Cortex,Brain Research, 2010, Brain Res. 1357, 26-40. PMCID: 20707989

Saha, D., Morton, D., Ariel, M. & Wessel, R. (2010). Response properties of visual neurons in the turtle nucleus isthmi. J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol., 197, 153-165.

Brown, M.E., Martin, J.R., Rosenbluth, J. & Ariel, M. (2011). A novel path for rapid transverse communication of vestibular signals in turtle cerebellum. J. Neurophysiol. 105, 1071-1088.

J.R. Dearworth Jr, A.L. Ashworth, J.M. Kaye, D.T. Bednarz, J.F. Blaum, J.M. Vacca, J.E. McNeish, K.A. Higgins,C.L. Michael, M.G. Skrobola, M.S. Jones, M. Ariel (2013). Role of trochlear nerve in eye abduction and frontal vision of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Journal of Comparative Neurology, 3464–3477.


Cerebellar afferent integration studied in vitro
N.I.H. Individual Research Grant, R01 NS 04604499,
Saint Louis University, 2004-2010

Processing of Bilateral Inputs to Vestibular Nucleus
N.I.H. Individual Research
Grant, R01 DC 03894,
Saint Louis University, 2000-2003

Convergence of excitatory and inhibitory visual inputs onto single neurons
N.S.F. IBN 9974891,
Saint Louis University, 1999-2002

Directionally sensitive input to oculomotor pathways,
N.I.H. Grant R01 EY05978

Synaptic integration of sensory afferents in brainstem,
N.I.H. Grant R01 NS33190

Honors and Awards

O'Leary Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience,
Washington University,

N.I.H. Vision Training Grant (T32 EY07057),
Washington University,

ISER Travel Fellowship granted by Pharmacia,

Lady Davis Visiting Professorship