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Summarize how the eye and the visual cortex work together to sense and perceive the visual stimuli in the environment, including processing colors, shape, depth, and motion. Whereas other animals rely primarily on hearing, smell, or touch to understand the world around them, human beings rely in large part on vision.
The air around us is filled with a sea of electromagnetic energy; pulses of energy waves that can carry information from place to place. Only a small fraction of the electromagnetic energy that surrounds us (the visible spectrum) is detectable by the human eye. Light enters the eye through the transparent cornea, passing through the pupil at the center of the iris. Accommodation is not always perfect, and in some cases the light that is hitting the retina is a bit out of focus.
For people with normal vision (left), the lens properly focuses incoming light on the retina. The retina contains layers of neurons specialized to respond to light (see Figure 4.9 "The Retina With Its Specialized Cells"). When light falls on the retina, it creates a photochemical reaction in the rods and cones at the back of the retina. To demonstrate the difference between rods and cones in attention to detail, choose a word in this text and focus on it. As you can see in Figure 4.11 "Pathway of Visual Images Through the Thalamus and Into the Visual Cortex", the sensory information received by the retina is relayed through the thalamus to corresponding areas in the visual cortex, which is located in the occipital lobe at the back of the brain. The left and right eyes each send information to both the left and the right brain hemisphere. The visual cortex is made up of specialized neurons that turn the sensations they receive from the optic nerve into meaningful images. You can get an idea of the extent of your blind spot (the place where the optic nerve leaves the retina) by trying this demonstration.
The Necker cube is an example of how the visual system creates perceptions out of sensations. It has been estimated that the human visual system can detect and discriminate among 7 million color variations (Geldard, 1972),Geldard, F. Light waves with shorter frequencies are perceived as more blue than red; light waves with higher intensity are seen as brighter.
In his important research on color vision, Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894) theorized that color is perceived because the cones in the retina come in three types.
People with normal color vision can see the number 42 in the first image and the number 12 in the second (they are vague but apparent).
The presence of an afterimage is best explained by the opponent-process theory of color perception.
At right, you may see a vase or you may see two faces, but in either case, you will organize the image as a figure against a ground.
You are more likely to see three similar columns among the XYX characters at right than you are to see four rows. We tend to perceive stimuli in smooth, continuous ways rather than in more discontinuous ways. At right, most people see a line of dots that moves from the lower left to the upper right, rather than a line that moves from the left and then suddenly turns down. Closure leads us to see a single spherical object at right rather than a set of unrelated cones.
Depth perceptionThe ability to perceive three-dimensional space and to accurately judge distance. Depth perception is the result of our use of depth cuesMessages from our bodies and the external environment that supply us with information about space and distance., messages from our bodies and the external environment that supply us with information about space and distance. An important binocular depth cue is convergenceThe inward turning of our eyes that is required to focus on objects that are less than about 50 feet away from us., the inward turning of our eyes that is required to focus on objects that are less than about 50 feet away from us. Although the best cues to depth occur when both eyes work together, we are able to see depth even with one eye closed. The fence posts at right appear farther away not only because they become smaller but also because they appear higher up in the picture. Assuming that the objects in a scene are the same size, smaller objects are perceived as farther away.
At right, because the blue star covers the pink bar, it is seen as closer than the yellow moon. The artist who painted the picture on the right used aerial perspective to make the clouds more hazy and thus appear farther away. Many animals, including human beings, have very sophisticated perceptual skills that allow them to coordinate their own motion with the motion of moving objects in order to create a collision with that object.
In the beta effect, our eyes detect motion from a series of still images, each with the object in a different place.
Light enters the eye through the transparent cornea and passes through the pupil at the center of the iris.
The retina has two types of photoreceptor cells: rods, which detect brightness and respond to black and white, and cones, which respond to red, green, and blue. Feature detector neurons in the visual cortex help us recognize objects, and some neurons respond selectively to faces and other body parts. The Young-Helmholtz trichromatic color theory proposes that color perception is the result of the signals sent by the three types of cones, whereas the opponent-process color theory proposes that we perceive color as three sets of opponent colors: red-green, yellow-blue, and white-black. The ability to perceive depth occurs through the result of binocular and monocular depth cues. Consider some ways that the processes of visual perception help you engage in an everyday activity, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle. Arnold Lazarus and Andrew Colman provide us with a very useful definition in their book where they note that:"Abnormal psychology is devoted to the study of mental, emotional, and behavioural aberrations. The world of abnormal-psychology is a video instructional series designed for college and high school classrooms and adult learners. Add important lessons to your Custom Course, track your progress, and achieve your study goals faster. A large part of our cerebral cortex is devoted to seeing, and we have substantial visual skills.
The light then passes through the pupilThe small opening in the center of the eye that allows light to enter., a small opening in the center of the eye. As our eyes move from near objects to distant objects, a process known as visual accommodation occurs. The lens adjusts to focus the light on the retina, where it appears upside down and backward.
As you can see in Figure 4.8 "Normal, Nearsighted, and Farsighted Eyes", if the focus is in front of the retina, we say that the person is nearsighted, and when the focus is behind the retina we say that the person is farsighted. For people who are nearsighted (center), images from far objects focus too far in front of the retina, whereas for people who are farsighted (right), images from near objects focus too far behind the retina. The reactions then continue to the bipolar cells, the ganglion cells, and eventually to the optic nerve.

Although the principle of contralateral control might lead you to expect that the left eye would send information to the right brain hemisphere and vice versa, nature is smarter than that. Because there are no photoreceptor cells at the place where the optic nerve leaves the retina, a hole or blind spot in our vision is created (see Figure 4.12 "Blind Spot Demonstration"). One type of cone reacts primarily to blue light (short wavelengths), another reacts primarily to green light (medium wavelengths), and a third reacts primarily to red light (long wavelengths). About 1 in 50 people, mostly men, lack functioning in the red- or green-sensitive cones, leaving them only able to experience either one or two colors (Figure 4.15). For one, although the color purple does appear to us as a mixing of red and blue, yellow does not appear to be a mix of red and green. Stare at the flag for a few seconds, and then move your gaze to the blank space next to it.
When light rays enter the eye, the red, blue, and green cones on the retina respond in different degrees, and send different strength signals of red, blue, and green through the optic nerve.
German psychologists in the 1930s and 1940s, including Max Wertheimer (1880–1943), Kurt Koffka (1886–1941), and Wolfgang Kohler (1887–1967), argued that we create forms out of their component sensations based on the idea of the gestaltA meaningful organized whole., a meaningfully organized whole.
The principle of continuity leads us to see most lines as following the smoothest possible path. Binocular depth cuesDepth cues that are created by retinal disparity—that is, the space between our eyes, and thus require the coordination of both eyes. The visual cortex uses the size of the convergence angle between the eyes to judge the object’s distance.
As the lens changes its curvature to focus on distant or close objects, information relayed from the muscles attached to the lens helps us determine an object’s distance. Bats and birds use this mechanism to catch up with prey, dogs use it to catch a Frisbee, and humans use it to catch a moving football. The beta effectThe perception of motion that occurs when different images are presented next to each other in succession. It is the branch of psychology concerned with research into the classification, causation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of psychological disorders or psychopathology. Originally filmed in 1992 The series consists of 13 one-hour long programs and thanks to Annenberg Media, you can watch them all online for free.PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS1. Barlow & Mark DurandBook DescriptionBalancing biological, psychological, social and cultural approaches, ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY successfully blends sophisticated research (including new prevention coverage) with the most widely recognized method of discussing psychopathology.
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You will learn how Balance Theory views our psychological comfort level based on different relationship dynamics.
Humans are blind to almost all of this energy—our eyes detect only the range from about 400 to 700 billionths of a meter, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the visible spectrum.
The pupil is surrounded by the irisThe colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil by constricting or dilating in response to light intensity., the colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil by constricting or dilating in response to light intensity. Visual accommodationThe process of changing the curvature of the lens to keep the light entering the eye focused on the retina. Eyeglasses and contact lenses correct this problem by adding another lens in front of the eye, and laser eye surgery corrects the problem by reshaping the eye’s own lens. The activation of these cells then spreads to the bipolar cells and then to the ganglion cells, which gather together and converge, like the strands of a rope, forming the optic nerve. This is because the word you are focusing on strikes the detail-oriented cones, while the words surrounding it strike the less-detail-oriented rods, which are located on the periphery.
In fact, the left and right eyes each send information to both the left and the right hemisphere, and the visual cortex processes each of the cues separately and in parallel. When both of our eyes are open, we don’t experience a problem because our eyes are constantly moving, and one eye makes up for what the other eye misses. You should be able to see the elephant image to the right (don’t look at it, just notice that it is there). Which cube we see varies depending on the momentary outcome of perceptual processes in the visual cortex. The visual cortex then detects and compares the strength of the signals from each of the three types of cones, creating the experience of color. And people with color blindness, who cannot see either green or red, nevertheless can still see yellow. Flag" for about 30 seconds (the longer you look, the better the effect), and then move your eyes to the blank area to the right of it, you will see the afterimage.
You will be able to feel your eyes converging if you slowly bring a finger closer to your nose while continuing to focus on it. Accommodation is only effective at short viewing distances, however, so while it comes in handy when threading a needle or tying shoelaces, it is far less effective when driving or playing sports. The brain detects motion partly from the changing size of an image on the retina (objects that look bigger are usually closer to us) and in part from the relative brightness of objects. In the phi phenomenon, the perception of motion is based on the momentary hiding of an image. Receptor cells on the retina are excited or inhibited by the light and send information to the visual cortex through the optic nerve. Its purview covers a broad spectrum of afflictions and includes neuroses, psychoses, personality disorders, psychophysiological disorders, organic mental syndromes, and mental retardation.
Looking at Abnormal BehaviorThe program visits the Jackson Memorial Hospital Crisis Center in Miami, where suicidal, depressed, and schizophrenic patients meet with psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers to assess the nature and seriousness of their problems. Going beyond simply describing different schools of thought on psychological disorders, the authors explore the interactions of the various forces that contribute to psychopathology. Once this visual information reaches the visual cortex, it is processed by a variety of neurons that detect colors, shapes, and motion, and that create meaningful perceptions out of the incoming stimuli. When we enter a dark movie theater on a sunny day, for instance, muscles in the iris open the pupil and allow more light to enter.
The optic nerveA collection of millions of ganglion neurons that sends vast amounts of visual information, via the thalamus, to the brain. The rods do not provide a lot of detail about the images we see, but because they are highly sensitive to shorter-waved (darker) and weak light, they help us see in dim light, for instance, at night. This is an adaptational advantage to an organism that loses sight in one eye, because even if only one eye is functional, both hemispheres will still receive input from it.
But the visual system is also designed to deal with this problem if only one eye is open—the visual cortex simply fills in the small hole in our vision with similar patterns from the surrounding areas, and we never notice the difference.
According to this Young-Helmholtz trichromatic color theoryThe theory of color perception that proposes that what color we see depends on the mix of the signals from the three types of cones., what color we see depends on the mix of the signals from the three types of cones.
When we stare at the green stripes, our green receptors habituate and begin to process less strongly, whereas the red receptors remain at full strength. One outcome of retinal disparity is that the images projected on each eye are slightly different from each other. When you close one eye, you no longer feel the tension—convergence is a binocular depth cue that requires both eyes to work. Abnormal psychology is not synonymous with clinical psychology, which is mainly concerned with professional practice and focuses primarily on diagnostic tests and the application of different treatment approaches.

Rays from the top of the image strike the bottom of the retina and vice versa, and rays from the left side of the image strike the right part of the retina and vice versa, causing the image on the retina to be upside down and backward. Because the rods are located primarily around the edges of the retina, they are particularly active in peripheral vision (when you need to see something at night, try looking away from what you want to see).
The ability of the visual system to cope with the blind spot is another example of how sensation and perception work together to create meaningful experience.
The visual cortex automatically merges the two images into one, enabling us to perceive depth. The essence of abnormal psychology is its emphasis on research into abnormal behaviour and its endeavour to classify the wide range of mental and emotional aberrations into coherent categories and to understand them. The Nature of StressWe see that stress affects many people a€” from the overworked and out-of-work, to survivors of suicide and homicide, to Vietnam War veterans who continually re-experience the stress of the battlefield. Furthermore, the image projected on the retina is flat, and yet our final perception of the image will be three dimensional. Because the retina and the optic nerve are active processors and analyzers of visual information, it is not inappropriate to think of these structures as an extension of the brain itself.
At one distance (probably a foot or so), the elephant will completely disappear from view because its image has fallen on the blind spot. Three-dimensional movies make use of retinal disparity by using 3-D glasses that the viewer wears to create a different image on each eye. Some of the most important are summarized in Table 4.2 "Monocular Depth Cues That Help Us Judge Depth at a Distance". A related effect is the phi phenomenonThe perception of motion caused by the appearance and disappearance of objects that are near each other., in which we perceive a sensation of motion caused by the appearance and disappearance of objects that are near each other. The program explores the long-term effects of stress and what is known about how to reduce them.3. The shade of a color, known as hueColor conveyed by the wavelength of the light that enters the eye., is conveyed by the wavelength of the light that enters the eye (we see shorter wavelengths as more blue and longer wavelengths as more red), and we detect brightness from the intensity or height of the wave (bigger or more intense waves are perceived as brighter). The infants were placed on one side of the “cliff,” while their mothers called to them from the other side.
The phi phenomenon looks like a moving zone or cloud of background color surrounding the flashing objects. The 5 million or so cones in each eye enable us to see in color, but they operate best in bright light. Gibson and Walk found that most infants either crawled away from the cliff or remained on the board and cried because they wanted to go to their mothers, but the infants perceived a chasm that they instinctively could not cross. The cones are located primarily in and around the foveaThe central point of the retina., which is the central point of the retina.
Because Leonardo da Vinci painted the smile in low-detail brush strokes, these details are better perceived by our peripheral vision (the rods) than by the cones. This program examines two of the most common, panic with agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder, and shows how psychologists are making headway in treating them.4. Livingstone found that people rated the Mona Lisa as more cheerful when they were instructed to focus on her eyes than they did when they were asked to look directly at her mouth.
Research has found that depth perception is in part based on innate capacities and in part learned through experience (Witherington, 2005).Witherington, D.
Psychological Factors and Physical IllnessThis program examines the relationship between emotions and health to explore how psychological treatment can improve well-being. Distributed and overlapping representations of faces and objects in ventral temporal cortex.
It focuses on a teenager with migraine headaches, a dentist trying to decrease his risk for developing heart disease, and a woman with breast cancer, along with those who are treating them.5. The development of prospective grasping control between 5 and 7 months: A longitudinal study.
On the other hand, studies have also found that infants improve their hand-eye coordination as they learn to better grasp objects and as they gain more experience in crawling, indicating that depth perception is also learned (Adolph, 2000).Adolph, K. Viewers will meet individuals with narcissistic, anti-social, borderline, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, including a murderer and a group of women who mutilate themselves, and will learn about the challenges involved in both diagnosis and treatment.6. When faced with a red square, for instance, the parallel line feature detectors, the horizontal line feature detectors, and the red color feature detectors all become activated. This activation is then passed on to other parts of the visual cortex where other neurons compare the information supplied by the feature detectors with images stored in memory. Health professionals know a great deal about these dangerous and costly disorders, including how to treat them. This program examines how the concept of treatment matching is used to help individuals overcome a variety of addictions.7.
TMS evidence for the involvement of the right occipital face area in early face processing.
These people share their private problems and demonstrate how the assessment and treatment of sexual disorders has advanced in the past 25 years.8. In this program, psychologists and biologists look at the causes and treatment of both depression and bipolar disorder and show the progress that has been made in helping people return to productive and satisfying lives.9. The SchizophreniasIn emotionally moving interviews, this program visits people who suffer from the hallucinations, paranoia, and psychological disarray of these disabling illnesses. In addition to examining symptoms and treatments, the program helps debunk some of the myths associated with the disorder and shows its human side and the strength of those who fight to overcome it.10. Organic Mental DisordersA teenager must relearn all the basic skills following a head injury. Science and technology's role in treating these debilitating disorders is also examined in this program.11. Behavior Disorders of ChildhoodAlmost all parents worry whether or not their child's behavior is normal. This program visits families of youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and autism. In addition, experts in child development and psychology discuss how to differentiate abnormal behavior from developmental stages.12.
PsychotherapiesThis program allows viewers to "sit-in" on five distinctly different kinds of psychotherapy: psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, Gestalt, couples, and group. Theory and practice are intertwined as these patients progress through therapy, sometimes trying alternative models for the same problem.13.
An Ounce of PreventionImagine a society whose citizens are protected from psychological disorders. This final episode visits several programs that are attempting to eliminate known risk factors a€” including social isolation and inadequate parenting skills a€” that often lead to serious disorders.

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