Vision Science (Psychophysics)

What is Vision Science?

Vision science is an interdisciplinary study of visual systems and perception and incorporates many disciplines, including optometry, ophthalmology, molecular genetics, neuroscience, and physiological optics. Vision science encompasses all facets of the visual process, including anatomy, biochemistry, optics and physiology of the eye.

Vision science encompasses all studies of vision, such as how human and non-human organisms process visual information, how conscious visual perception works in humans, how to exploit visual perception for effective communication, and how artificial systems can do the same tasks.

Vision Science is the source of an array of research questions relating to how we see, how and why vision fails, and what can be done about it. Investigators in Vision Science conduct human and animal research and modeling, yielding cutting-edge discoveries and applications in disciplines that include clinical care, adaptive optics, neurobiology, cell biology, bioengineering, perception, and public health.

What is a Vision Science program?

A vision science program educates students in the study of vision from the perspectives of computer science, cognitive psychology, and psychophysics. A program may feature a pre-optometry pathway that prepares students to apply to professional programs, such as optometry, dentistry, and medicine. Students participate in optometry clinics and can work in outpatient facilities and outreach programs.

What Careers are associated with Vision Science?

Graduates of a Vision Science program may find employment working as a research assistant, a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company or contact lens manufacturer, rehabilitation trainer of individuals with low vision or an optician. A master's in vision science prepares students to work in research, industry, and teaching. Graduates of a Ph.D. program may find research positions in the fields of biology, sensory and perception, neuroscience, optics, and bioengineering. Careers include a researcher, professor or engineer in vision development.

What is Visual Perception?

Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment using light in the visible spectrum reflected by the objects in the environment. This is different from visual acuity, which refers to how clearly a person sees (for example "20/20 vision"). A person can have problems with visual perceptual processing even if he/she has 20/20 vision. The resulting perception is also known as visual perception, eyesight, sight, or vision. The various physiological components involved in vision are referred to collectively as the visual system and are the focus of much research in the fields of Vision Science. The major problem in visual perception is that what people see is not simply a translation of retinal stimuli. Thus people interested in perception have long struggled to explain what visual processing does to create what is actually seen.

How does Visual Perception work in humans?

Vision requires distilling foreground from background, recognizing objects presented in a wide range of orientations, and accurately interpreting spatial cues. The neural mechanisms of visual perception offer insight into how the brain handles such computationally complex situations. Visual perception begins as soon as the eye focuses light onto the retina, where it is absorbed by a layer of photoreceptor cells. These cells convert light into electrochemical signals and are divided into two types, rods and cones, named for their shape. Rod cells are responsible for our night vision and respond well to dim light. Rods are found mostly in the peripheral regions of the retina, so most people will find that they can see better at night if they focus their gaze just off to the side of whatever they are observing. Cone cells are concentrated in the central region of the retina called the fovea; they are responsible for high acuity tasks like reading, and also for color vision. Cones can be subcategorized into three types, depending on how they respond to red, green, and blue light. In combination, these three cone types enable us to perceive color.

What is Visual Processing?

Visual processing is a term that is used to refer to the brain's ability to use and interpret visual information from the world around us. The process of converting light energy into a meaningful image is a complex process that is facilitated by numerous brain structures and higher-level cognitive processes. The two optic nerves from each eye meet at the optic chiasm, where nerve fibers from each nasal retina cross which results in the right half of each eye's visual field being represented in the left hemisphere and the left half of each eye's visual fields being represented in the right hemisphere. The optic tract then diverges into two visual pathways, the geniculostriate pathway and the tectopulvinar pathway, which sends visual information to the visual cortex of the occipital lobe for higher-level processing

Why is Visual Perception important?

Visual perception is the process of absorbing what one sees, organizing it in the brain, and making sense of it. One of the most common examples of visual perception's importance is cognitive processes in reading. Looking at the words of a book and being able to make sense of the plot is visual perception at work. Difficulty in visual perception can cause problems with cognitive processes. Cognitive processes are cognitive activities that affect our mental content such as paying attention, categorization, memorization, and acquisition of knowledge. Visual perception is vital in cognitive processing.

What are the five stages of Perception?

Perception is the process by which people are aware of objects and events in the external world. Perception occurs in five stages:

Stimulation - The world is full of stimuli that can attract our attention through various senses. Stimulation includes selective attention and selective exposure. As we are not able to perceive everything that is happening around us simultaneously, we tend to engage in selective perception.

Organization - The capacity to identify and recognize objects and events is crucial for normal perception. Perception is organized by rules, schemata, and scripts. People develop schemata from actual experiences as well as vicarious experience from daily activities.

Interpretation/Evaluation - This stage is the process of interpreting stimuli according to an individual’s experiences, needs, wants, values, expectations, physical and emotional state, gender and beliefs based on an individual’s rules, schemata and scripts.

Memory - It is the storage of both perception and interpretation/evaluation that are kept according to scripts and schemas. Events or experiences are not the objective of recollection but are more likely heavily influenced by an individual’s preconceptions and schemata.

Recall - After some time, an individual can access their stored memories to recall certain information. This stage reconstructs what an individual has seen or heard in a meaningful way. Recall information regularly contradicts one’s schema because it forces an individual to think or even rethink.

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