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Vision

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Probing Cognition

In the last decade, the synergistic interaction of neurosurgeons, engineers, and neuroscientists, combined with new technologies, has enabled scientists to study the awake, behaving human brain directly. These developments allow cognitive processes to be characterized at unprecedented resolution: single neuron activity. Direct observation of the human brain has already led to major insights into such aspects of brain function as perception, language, sleep, learning, memory, action, imagery, volition, and consciousness.

Visual science is the model system for neuroscience, its findings relevant to all other areas. This essential reference to contemporary visual neuroscience covers the extraordinary range of the field today, from molecules and cell assemblies to systems and therapies. It provides a state-of-the art companion to the earlier book The Visual Neurosciences (MIT Press, 2003). This volume covers the dramatic advances made in the last decade, offering new topics, new authors, and new chapters.

From Laboratory to Theory

Vision is one of the most active areas in biomedical research, and visual psychophysical techniques are a foundational methodology for this research enterprise. Visual psychophysics, which studies the relationship between the physical world and human behavior, is a classical field of study that has widespread applications in modern vision science. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this textbook provides a comprehensive treatment of visual psychophysics, teaching not only basic techniques but also sophisticated data analysis methodologies and theoretical approaches.

Detection and Interpretation of Animacy, Agency, and Intention

As we enter a room full of people, we instantly have a number of social perceptions. We have an automatic perception of others as subjective agents with their own points of view, thoughts, and goals, and we can quickly interpret minimal visual information to infer that something is animate. This book explores the perceptual and cognitive processes that allow humans to perceive and understand this social information quickly and apparently effortlessly.

How We Perceive the World

In this accessible and engaging introduction to modern vision science, James Stone uses visual illusions to explore how the brain sees the world. Understanding vision, Stone argues, is not simply a question of knowing which neurons respond to particular visual features, but also requires a computational theory of vision.

On the Active Boundaries of Vision

How do we gain access to things as they are? Although we routinely take our self-made pictures to be veridical representations of reality, in actuality we choose (albeit unwittingly) or construct what we see. By movements of the eyes, the direction of our gaze, we create meaning. In Brain and the Gaze, Jan Lauwereyns offers a novel reformulation of perception and its neural underpinnings, focusing on the active nature of perception.

There are few articles in science that remain relevant over a span of 100 years; Max Wertheimer's pioneering experimental studies on apparent motion and figural organization are notable exceptions. Wertheimer’s 1912 account of motion perception started a revolution and established the Gestalt school of psychology. It also paved the way for further investigations of apparent motion perception, including subsequent research by Oliver Braddick, Stuart Anstis, Vilaynur Ramachandran, and others.

Toward a Common Multivariate Framework for Cell Recording and Functional Imaging

Vision is a massively parallel computational process, in which the retinal image is transformed over a sequence of stages so as to emphasize behaviorally relevant information (such as object category and identity) and deemphasize other information (such as viewpoint and lighting). The processes behind vision operate by concurrent computation and message passing among neurons within a visual area and between different areas.

Although William James declared in 1890, "Everyone knows what attention is," today there are many different and sometimes opposing views on the subject. This fragmented theoretical landscape may be because most of the theories and models of attention offer explanations in natural language or in a pictorial manner rather than providing a quantitative and unambiguous statement of the theory. They focus on the manifestations of attention instead of its rationale.

The Neuroscience of Visual Impairment

Can a blind person see? The very idea seems paradoxical. And yet, if we conceive of "seeing" as the ability to generate internal mental representations that may contain visual details, the idea of blind vision becomes a concept subject to investigation. In this book, Zaira Cattaneo and Tomaso Vecchi examine the effects of blindness and other types of visual deficit on the development and functioning of the human cognitive system.

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