9.00SC | Fall 2011 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Psychology

Vision I

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Session Overview

Schematic diagram of the binocular visual field mapped to eyes and optic nerves, extended through a horizontal section of brain depicting LGN, optic radiation, and primary visual cortex.

How do we visualize our environment? What problems must the visual system overcome? Upon completion of the session, you will have a better understanding of human perceptual abilities and how the neural substrates of vision are organized in the brain.

Keywords: vision, perception, optical illusions, color, light

Image by MIT OpenCourseWare. After Figure 10-4b in Bear, Mark F., Barry W. Connors, and Michael A. Paradiso. Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. 3rd ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. ISBN: 9780781760034.

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Question 1

Each of the three types of cones in the retina is activated primarily by one frequency/color of light. Which of the following is not actually one of cones?

Describe in detail the pathway that transmits visual information from the eye to the primary vision areas in the brain. Also describe the function of each component of the eye when processing visual information.

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Light enters through the cornea, which begins to focus the light. The light passes through the pupil and through the lens, which focuses the light onto the retina. Retina cells called rods and cones begin to process visual information. Rods respond black, white, and gray colors. Rods do not provide much detail of an image, but respond well in dim light and are important for peripheral vision. Cones respond to color and can detect fine details in an image. Cones respond most to bright light and are mostly located in the center of the retina, called the fovea. Visual information then passes through the bipolar cells to the ganglion cells. From there the visual information is transmitted down the optic nerve to the thalamus, and finally to primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe.

Further Study

These optional resources are provided for students that wish to explore this topic more fully.

Website Schiller Lab Lab focused on the workings of the visual and oculomotor systems of human and non-human primates.
Textbook supplement Study materials for Chapter 3, “Psychology Sensation and Perception: How the World Enters the Mind,” in Study Site for Psychology in Context, 3/e (Pearsonn Education, 2007) Practice test questions, flashcards, and media for a related textbook by Kosslyn & Rosenberg

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Fall 2011
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