Stephen Engel

University of Minnesota

Thursday 03/Oct/2013
17:00 (5pm)
Roberts Building 508 (>map<)

In the visual system, neural function alters dramatically as people adapt to changes in their visual world, such as increases or decreases in brightness or clarity. Most past work on visual adaptation, however, has altered visual input only over the short-term, typically a few minutes. I will present a series of experiments that investigate adaptation over a much longer term. My laboratory recently developed “altered reality” technology that allows subjects to live in, and adapt to, experimentally manipulated visual worlds for hours and days at a time. Subjects viewed the world through virtual reality goggles that display video acquired from a head mounted camera, processed in real time on a laptop computer. In order to characterize long-term visual plasticity, we used image manipulations that targeted early visual cortex, and measured adaptation with perceptual tests. Effects of adaptation grew stronger and longer-lasting as the adapting duration extended from minutes to hours to days. The long term adaptation was behaviourally distinguishable from shorter term adaptation, suggesting that it is controlled by novel neural mechanisms. These controllers may allow vision to perform near optimally in an ever-changing world.

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