Research Papers On Perception


Leonardo Chelazzi | Andrea Perlato | Elisa Santandrea | Chiara Della Libera

Visual selective attention is the brain function that modulates ongoing processing of retinal input in order for selected representations to gain privileged access to perceptual awareness and guide behavior. Enhanced analysis of currently relevant or otherwise salient information is often accompanied by suppressed processing of the less relevant or salient input. Recent findings indicate that rewards exert a powerful influence on the deployment of visual selective attention. Such influence takes different forms depending on the specific protocol adopted in the given study. In some cases, the prospect of earning a larger reward in relation to a specific stimulus or location biases attention accordingly in order to maximize overall gain. This is mediated by an effect of reward acting as a type of incentive motivation for the strategic control of attention. In contrast, reward delivery can directly alter the processing of specific stimuli by increasing their attentional priority, and this can be measured even when rewards are no longer involved, reflecting a form of reward-mediated attentional learning. As a further development, recent work demonstrates that rewards can affect attentional learning in dissociable ways depending on whether rewards are perceived as feedback on performance or instead are registered as random-like events occurring during task performance. Specifically, it appears that visual selective attention is shaped by two distinct reward-related learning mechanisms: one requiring active monitoring of performance and outcome, and a second one detecting the sheer association between objects in the environment (whether attended or ignored) and the more-or-less rewarding events that accompany them. Overall this emerging literature demonstrates unequivocally that rewards "teach" visual selective attention so that processing resources will be allocated to obje cts, features and locations which are likely to optimize the organism's interaction with the surrounding environment and maximize positive outcome. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Katarina Stingl | Karl Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt | Dorothea Besch | Caroline K. Chee | Charles L. Cottriall | Florian Gekeler | Markus Groppe | Timothy L. Jackson | Robert E. MacLaren | Assen Koitschev | Akos Kusnyerik | James Neffendorf | Janos Nemeth | Mohamed Adheem Naser Naeem | Tobias Peters | James D. Ramsden | Helmut Sachs | Andrew Simpson | Mandeep S. Singh | Barbara Wilhelm | David Wong | Eberhart Zrenner

© 2015 The Authors. A subretinal visual implant (Alpha IMS, Retina Implant AG, Reutlingen, Germany) was implanted in 29 blind participants with outer retinal degeneration in an international multicenter clinical trial. Primary efficacy endpoints of the study protocol were a significant improvement of activities of daily living and mobility to be assessed by activities of daily living tasks, recognition tasks, mobility, or a combination thereof. Secondary efficacy endpoints were a significant improvement of visual acuity/light perception and/or object recognition (clinicaltrials.gov, NCT01024803).During up to 12. months observation time twenty-one participants (72%) reached the primary endpoints, of which thirteen participants (45%) reported restoration of visual function which they use in daily life. Additionally, detection, localization, and identification of objects were significantly better with the implant power switched on in the first 3 months. Twenty-five participants (86%) reached the secondary endpoints. Measurable grating acuity was up to 3.3 cycles per degree, visual acuities using standardized Landolt C-rings were 20/2000, 20/2000, 20/606 and 20/546. Maximal correct motion perception ranged from 3 to 35 degrees per second. These results show that subretinal implants can restore very-low-vision or low vision in blind (light perception or less) patients with end-stage hereditary retinal degenerations.


Roland W. Fleming

Misidentifying materials-such as mistaking soap for pâté, or vice versa-could lead to some pretty messy mishaps. Fortunately, we rarely suffer such indignities, thanks largely to our outstanding ability to recognize materials-and identify their properties-by sight. In everyday life, we encounter an enormous variety of materials, which we usually distinguish effortlessly and without error. However, despite its subjective ease, material perception poses the visual system with some unique and significant challenges, because a given material can take on many different appearances depending on the lighting, viewpoint and shape. Here, I use observations from recent research on material perception to outline a general theory of material perception, in which I suggest that the visual system does not actually estimate physical parameters of materials and objects. Instead-I argue-the brain is remarkably adept at building 'statistical generative models' that capture the natural degrees of variation in appearance between samples. For example, when determining perceived glossiness, the brain does not estimate parameters of the BRDF. Instead, it uses a constellation of low- and mid-level image measurements to characterize the extent to which the surface manifests specular reflections. I argue that these 'statistical appearance models' are both more expressive and easier to compute than physical parameters, and therefore represent a powerful middle way between a 'bag of tricks' and 'inverse optics'. © 2013 The Author.


L. Thaler | A. C. Schütz | M. A. Goodale | K. R. Gegenfurtner

People can direct their gaze at a visual target for extended periods of time. Yet, even during fixation the eyes make small, involuntary movements (e.g. tremor, drift, and microsaccades). This can be a problem during experiments that require stable fixation. The shape of a fixation target can be easily manipulated in the context of many experimental paradigms. Thus, from a purely methodological point of view, it would be good to know if there was a particular shape of a fixation target that minimizes involuntary eye movements during fixation, because this shape could then be used in experiments that require stable fixation. Based on this methodological motivation, the current experiments tested if the shape of a fixation target can be used to reduce eye movements during fixation. In two separate experiments subjects directed their gaze at a fixation target for 17. s on each trial. The shape of the fixation target varied from trial to trial and was drawn from a set of seven shapes, the use of which has been frequently reported in the literature. To determine stability of fixation we computed spatial dispersion and microsaccade rate. We found that only a target shape which looks like a combination of bulls eye and cross hair resulted in combined low dispersion and microsaccade rate. We recommend the combination of bulls eye and cross hair as fixation target shape for experiments that require stable fixation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Dennis M. Levi | David C. Knill | Daphne Bavelier

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Amblyopia is a neuro-developmental disorder of the visual cortex that arises from abnormal visual experience early in life. Amblyopia is clinically important because it is a major cause of vision loss in infants and young children. Amblyopia is also of basic interest because it reflects the neural impairment that occurs when normal visual development is disrupted. Amblyopia provides an ideal model for understanding when and how brain plasticity may be harnessed for recovery of function. Over the past two decades there has been a rekindling of interest in developing more effective methods for treating amblyopia, and for extending the treatment beyond the critical period, as exemplified by new clinical trials and new basic research studies. The focus of this review is on stereopsis and its potential for recovery. Impaired stereoscopic depth perception is the most common deficit associated with amb lyopia under ordinary (binocular) viewing conditions (Webber & Wood, 2005). Our review of the extant literature suggests that this impairment may have a substantial impact on visuomotor tasks, difficulties in playing sports in children and locomoting safely in older adults. Furthermore, impaired stereopsis may also limit career options for amblyopes. Finally, stereopsis is more impacted in strabismic than in anisometropic amblyopia. Our review of the various approaches to treating amblyopia (patching, perceptual learning, videogames) suggests that there are several promising new approaches to recovering stereopsis in both anisometropic and strabismic amblyopes. However, recovery of stereoacuity may require more active treatment in strabismic than in anisometropic amblyopia. Individuals with strabismic amblyopia have a very low probability of improvement with monocular training; however they fare better with dichoptic training than with monocular training, and even better with direct stereo training.


Chrystalina Antoniades | Ulrich Ettinger | Bertrand Gaymard | Iain Gilchrist | Arni Kristjánsson | Christopher Kennard | R. John Leigh | Imran Noorani | Pierre Pouget | Nikolaos Smyrnis | Adam Tarnowski | David S. Zee | R. H.S. Carpenter

Detailed measurements of saccadic latency - the time taken to make an eye movement to a suddenly-presented visual target - have proved a valuable source of detailed and quantitative information in a wide range of neurological conditions, as well as shedding light on the mechanisms of decision, currently of intense interest to cognitive neuroscientists. However, there is no doubt that more complex oculomotor tasks, and in particular the antisaccade task in which a participant must make a saccade in the opposite direction to the target, are potentially more sensitive indicators of neurological dysfunction, particularly in neurodegenerative conditions. But two obstacles currently hinder their widespread adoption for this purpose. First, that much of the potential information from antisaccade experiments, notably about latency distribution and amplitude, is typically thrown away. Second, that there is no standardised protocol for carrying out antisaccade experiments, so that results from one laboratory cannot easily be compared with those from another. This paper, the outcome of a recent international meeting of oculomotor scientists and clinicians with an unusually wide experience of such measurements, sets out a proposed protocol for clinical antisaccade trials: its adoption will greatly enhance the clinical and scientific benefits of making these kinds of measurements. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Robert F. Hess | Benjamin Thompson

© 2015. There is growing evidence that abnormal binocular interactions play a key role in amblyopia. In particular, stronger suppression of the amblyopic eye has been associated with poorer amblyopic eye visual acuity and a new therapy has been described that directly targets binocular function and has been found to improve both monocular and binocular vision in adults and children with amblyopia. Furthermore, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that alter excitation and inhibition within the visual cortex have been shown to improve vision in the amblyopic eye. The aim of this review is to summarize this previous work and interpret the therapeutic effects of binocular therapy and non-invasive brain stimulation in the context of three potential neural mechanisms; active inhibition of signals from the amblyopic eye, attenuation of information from the amblyopic eye and metaplasticity of synaptic long term potentiation and long term depression.


Denis G. Pelli | Peter Bex

Contrast sensitivity defines the threshold between the visible and invisible, which has obvious significance for basic and clinical vision science. Fechner's 1860 review reported that threshold contrast is 1% for a remarkably wide range of targets and conditions. While printed charts are still in use, computer testing is becoming more popular because it offers efficient adaptive measu rement of threshold for a wide range of stimuli. Both basic and clinical studies usually want to know fundamental visual capability, regardless of the observer's subjective criterion. Criterion effects are minimized by the use of an objective task: multiple-alternative forced-choice detection or identification. Having many alternatives reduces the guessing rate, which makes each trial more informative, so fewer trials are needed. Finally, populations who may experience crowding or target confusion should be tested with one target at a time. © 2013 The Authors.


Simone Gori | Andrea Facoetti

Learning to read is extremely difficult for about 10% of children across cultures because they are affected by developmental dyslexia (DD). According to the dominant view, DD is considered an auditory-phonological processing deficit. However, accumulating evidence from developmental and clinical vision science, suggests that the basic cross-modal letter-to-speech sound integration deficit in DD might arise from a mild atypical development of the magnocellular-dorsal pathway which also contains the main fronto-parietal attentional network. Letters have to be precisely selected from irrelevant and cluttering letters by rapid orienting of visual attention before the correct letter-to-speech sound integration applies. Our aim is to review the literature supporting a possible role of perceptual learning (PL) in helping to solve the puzzle called DD. PL is defined as improvement of perceptual skills with practice. Based on the previous literature showing how PL is able to selectively change visual abilities, we here propose to use PL to improve the impaired visual functions characterizing DD and, in particular, the visual deficits that could be developmentally related to an early magnocellular-dorsal pathway and selective attention dysfunction. The crucial visual attention deficits that are causally linked to DD could be, indeed, strongly reduced by training the magnocellular-dorsal pathway with the PL, and learning to read for children with DD would not be anymore such a difficult task. This new remediation approach - not involving any phonological or orthographic training - could be also used to develop new prevention programs for pre-reading children at DD risk. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Gary S. Rubin

Despite significant changes in the treatment of common eye conditions like cataract and age-related macular degeneration, reading difficulty remains the most common complaint of patients referred for low vision services. Clinical reading tests have been widely used since Jaeger introduced his test types in 1854. A brief review of the major developments in clinical reading tests is provided, followed by a discussion of some of the main controversies in clinical reading assessment. Data for the Salisbury Eye Evaluation (SEE) study demonstrate that standardised clinical reading tests are highly predictive of reading performance under natural, real world conditions, and that discrepancies between self-reported reading ability and measured reading performance may be indicative of people who are at a pre-clinical stage of disability, but are at risk for progression to clinical disability.If measured reading performance is to continue to increase in importance as a clinical outcome measure, there must be agreement on what should be measured (e.g. speed or comprehension) and how it should be measured (e.g. reading silently or aloud). Perhaps most important, the methods for assessing reading performance and the algorithms for scoring reading tests need to be optimised so that the reliability and responsiveness of reading tests can be improved. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Ali Borji | Dicky N. Sihite | Laurent Itti

Eye tracking has become the de facto standard measure of visual attention in tasks that range from free viewing to complex daily activities. In particular, saliency models are often evaluated by their ability to predict human gaze patterns. However, fixations are not only influenced by bottom-up saliency (computed by the models), but also by many top-down factors. Thus, comparing bottom-up saliency maps to eye fixations is challenging and has required that one tries to minimize top-down influences, for example by focusing on early fixations on a stimulus. Here we propose two complementary procedures to evaluate visual saliency. We seek whether humans have explicit and conscious access to the saliency computations believed to contribute to guiding attention and eye movements. In the first experiment, 70 observers were asked to choose which object stands out the most based on its low-level features in 100 images each containing only two objects. Using several state-of-the-art bottom-up visual saliency models that measure local and global spatial image outliers, we show that maximum saliency inside the selected object is significantly higher than inside the non-selected object and the background. Thus spatial outliers are a predictor of human judgments. Performance of this predictor is boosted by including object size as an additional feature. In the second experiment, observers were asked to draw a polygon circumscribing the most salient object in cluttered scenes. For each of 120 images, we show that a map built from annotations of 70 observers explains eye fixations of another 20 observers freely viewing the images, significantly above chance (dataset by Bruce and Tsotsos (2009); shuffled AUC score 0.62. ±. 0.07, chance 0.50, t-test p < . 0.05). We conclude that fixations agree with saliency judgments, and classic bottom-up saliency models explain both. We further find that computational models specifically designed for fixation prediction slightly outperform models designed for salient object detection over both types of data (i.e., fixations and objects). © 2013.


J. W. Brascamp | P. C. Klink | W. J.M. Levelt

© 2015 The Authors. It has been fifty years since Levelt's monograph On Binocular Rivalry (1965) was published, but its four propositions that describe the relation between stimulus strength and the phenomenology of binocular rivalry remain a benchmark for theorists and experimentalists even today. In this review, we will revisit the original conception of the four propositions and the scientific landscape in which this happened. We will also provide a brief update concerning distributions of dominance durations, another aspect of Levelt's monograph that has maintained a prominent presence in the field. In a critical evaluation of Levelt's propositions against current knowledge of binocular rivalry we will then demonstrate that the original propositions are not completely compatible with what is known today, but that they can, in a straightforward way, be modified to encapsulate the progress that has been made over the past fifty years. The resulting modified, propositions are shown to apply to a broad range of bistable perceptual phenomena, not just binocular rivalry, and they allow important inferences about the underlying neural systems. We argue that these inferences reflect canonical neural properties that play a role in visual perception in general, and we discuss ways in which future research can build on the work reviewed here to attain a better understanding of these properties.


Ian L. Bailey | Jan E. Lovie-Kitchin

The need for precision in visual acuity assessment for low vision research led to the design of the Bailey-Lovie letter chart. This paper describes the decisions behind the design principles used and how the logarithmic progression of sizes led to the development of the logMAR designation of visual acuity and the improved sensitivity gained from letter-by-letter scoring. While the principles have since been adopted by most major clinical research studies and for use in most low vision clinics, use of charts of this design and application of letter-by-letter scoring are also important for the accurate assessment of visual acuity in any clinical setting. We discuss the test protocols that should be applied to visual acuity testing and the use of other tests for assessing profound low vision when the limits of visual acuity measurement by letter charts are reached. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Indu Vedamurthy | Mor Nahum | Samuel J. Huang | Frank Zheng | Jessica Bayliss | Daphne Bavelier | Dennis M. Levi

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Previous studies have employed different experimental approaches to enhance visual function in adults with amblyopia including perceptual learning, videogame play, and dichoptic training. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of a novel dichoptic action videogame combining all three approaches. This experimental intervention was compared to a conventional, yet unstudied method of supervised occlusion while watching movies.Adults with unilateral amblyopia were assigned to either play the dichoptic action game (n=23; 'game' group), or to watch movies monocularly while the fellow eye was patched (n=15; 'movies' group) for a total of 40. hours.Following training, visual acuity (VA) improved on average by ≈0.14. logMAR (≈28%) in the game group, with improvements noted in both anisometropic and strabismic patients. This improvement is similar to that obtained following perceptual learning, video game play or dichoptic training. Surprisingly, patients with anisometropic amblyopia in the movies group showed similar improvement, revealing a greater impact of supervised occlusion in adults than typically thought. Stereoacuity, reading speed, and contrast sensitivity improved more for game group participants compared with movies group participants. Most improvements were largely retained following a 2-month no-contact period.This novel video game, which combines action gaming, perceptual learning and dichoptic presentation, results in VA improvements equivalent to those previously documented with each of these techniques alone. Our game intervention led to greater improvement than control training in a variety of visual functions, thus suggesting that this approach has promise for the treatment of adult amblyopia.


Alexander F. Russell | Stefan Mihalaş | Rudiger von der Heydt | Ernst Niebur | Ralph Etienne-Cummings

Organisms use the process of selective attention to optimally allocate their computational resources to the instantaneously most relevant subsets of a visual scene, ensuring that they can parse the scene in real time. Many models of bottom-up attentional selection assume that elementary image features, like intensity, color and orientation, attract attention. Gestalt psychologists, however, argue that humans perceive whole objects before they analyze individual features. This is supported by recent psychophysical studies that show that objects predict eye-fixations better than features. In this report we present a neurally inspired algorithm of object based, bottom-up attention. The model rivals the performance of state of the art non-biologically plausible feature based algorithms (and outperforms biologically plausible feature based algorithms) in its ability to predict perceptual saliency (eye fixations and subjective interest points) in natural scenes. The model achieves this by computing saliency as a function of proto-objects that establish the perceptual organization of the scene. All computational mechanisms of the algorithm have direct neural correlates, and our results provide evidence for the interface theory of attention. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Laura K. Pynn | Joseph F X DeSouza

Efference copy signals are used to reduce cognitive load by decreasing sensory processing of reafferent information (those incoming sensory signals that are produced by an organism's own motor output). Attenuated sensory processing of self-generated afferents is seen across species and in multiple sensory systems involving many different neural structures and circuits including both cortical and subcortical structures with thalamic nuclei playing a particularly important role. It has been proposed that the failure to disambiguate self-induced from externally generated sensory input may cause some of the positive symptoms in schizophrenia such as auditory hallucinations and delusions of passivity. Here, we review the current data on the role of efference copy signals within different sensory modalities as well as the behavioral, structural and functional abnormalities in clinical groups that support this hypothesis. © 2012.


Tom Foulsham | Alexander Gray | Eleni Nasiopoulos | Alan Kingstone

A bias for humans to attend to the left side of space has been reported in a variety of experiments. While patients with hemispatial neglect mistakenly bisect horizontal lines to the right of centre, neurologically healthy individuals show a mean leftward error. Here, two experiments demonstrated a robust tendency for participants to saccade to the left when viewing photographs. We were able to manipulate this bias by using an asymmetrical gaze-contingent window, which revealed more of the scene on one side of fixation-causing participants to saccade more often in that direction. A second experiment demonstrated the same change in eye movements occurring rapidly from trial to trial, and investigated whether it would carry over and effect attention during a line bisection task. There was some carry-over from gaze-contingent scene viewing to the eye movements during line bisection. However, despite frequent initial eye movements and many errors to the left, manual responses were not affected by this change in orienting. We conclude that the mechanisms underlying asymmetrical attention in picture scanning and line bisection are flexible and can be separated, with saccades in scene perception driven more by a skewed perceptual span. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Moshe Fried | Eteri Tsitsiashvili | Yoram S. Bonneh | Anna Sterkin | Tamara Wygnanski-Jaffe | Tamir Epstein | Uri Polat

Oculomotor behavior and parameters are known to be affected by the allocation of attention and could potentially be used to investigate attention disorders. We explored the oculomotor markers of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that are involuntary and quantitative and that could be used to reveal the core-affected mechanisms, as well as be used for differential diagnosis. We recorded eye movements in a group of 22 ADHD-diagnosed patients with and without medication (methylphenidate) and in 22 control observers while performing the test of variables of attention (t.o.v.a.). We found that the average microsaccade and blink rates were higher in the ADHD group, especially in the time interval around stimulus onset. These rates increased monotonically over session time for both groups, but with significantly faster increments in the unmedicated ADHD group. With medication, the level and time course of the microsaccade rate were fully normalized to the control level, regardless of the time interval within trials. In contrast, the pupil diameter decreased over time within sessions and significantly increased above the control level with medication. We interpreted the suppression of microsaccades and eye blinks around the stimulus onset as reflecting a temporal anticipation mechanism for the transient allocation of attention, and their overall rates as inversely reflecting the level of arousal. We suggest that ADHD subjects fail to maintain sufficient levels of arousal during a simple and prolonged task, which limits their ability to dynamically allocate attention while anticipating visual stimuli. This impairment normalizes with medication and its oculomotor quantification could potentially be used for differential diagnosis. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Christopher P. Said | Ryan D. Egan | Nancy J. Minshew | Marlene Behrmann | David J. Heeger

Autism is characterized by disruption in multiple dimensions of perception, emotion, language and social cognition. Many hypotheses for the underlying neurophysiological basis have been proposed. Among these is the excitation/inhibition (E/. I) imbalance hypothesis, which states that levels of cortical excitation and inhibition are disrupted in autism. We tested this theory in the visual system, because vision is one of the better understood systems in neuroscience, and because the E/. I imbalance theory has been proposed to explain hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli in autism. We conducted two experiments on binocular rivalry, a well-studied psychophysical phenomenon that depends critically on excitation and inhibition levels in cortex. Using a computational model, we made specific predictions about how imbalances in excitation and inhibition levels would affect perception during two aspects of binocular rivalry: mixed perception (Experiment 1) and traveling waves (E xperiment 2). We found no significant differences in either of these phenomena between high-functioning adults with autism and controls, and no evidence for a relationship between these measurements and the severity of autism. These results do not conclusively rule out an excitation/inhibition imbalance in the visual system of those with autism, but they suggest that such an imbalance, if it exists, is likely to be small in magnitude. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Она металась между дверцами кабинок и рукомойниками. Потеряв ориентацию, двигалась, вытянув перед собой руки и пытаясь восстановить в памяти очертания комнаты.

Споткнулась о мусорный бачок и едва не наткнулась на кафельную стенку. Ведя рукой по прохладному кафелю, она наконец добралась до двери и нащупала дверную ручку.

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