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New findings on eye-signal blending

Date:
January 17, 2019
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
Knowing precisely where the signals meet and the brain processes them is vital to treating amblyopia, or reduced vision in one eye because the brain and eye aren't working together properly.
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Look at an object, cover one eye at a time, and the object appears to jump back and forth. Stare at it with both eyes working, and we take for granted a complicated process of the brain combining the signals into one, giving us a clear view and proper depth perception.

That happens the moment those dual signals enter the visual cortex in the brain, a team of Vanderbilt University researchers has discovered.

Their finding, made possible by modern technology, is counter to one that garnered the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Vanderbilt's Alexander Maier, assistant professor of psychology, and Ph.D. student Kacie Dougherty used computerized eye-tracking cameras plus electrodes that can record activity of single neurons in a particular area.

Knowing precisely where the signals meet and the brain processes them is vital to treating amblyopia, or reduced vision in one eye because the brain and eye aren't working together properly. So far, the standard treatment is placing a patch over the working eye in an effort to jumpstart the "lazy" one. If pediatric eye specialists miss the short window when the problem can be fixed, it's typically permanent.

"Our data suggest that the two eyes are merged as they arrive in the neocortex and not at a later stage of brain processing, as previously believed," Maier said. "This major leap in our understanding of how the brain combines information from the two eyes is promising for our search for therapeutic approaches to some of the most common eye diseases in children."

Knowing which neurons are involved in the process also opens the door to targeted brain therapies that reach well beyond eye patches.

"There are six functionally distinct layers in the primary visual cortex," Dougherty said. "We thought the initial processing happened in the upper layers, but it's actually in the middle. That's vital information for developing treatments."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Vanderbilt University. Original written by Heidi Hall. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kacie Dougherty, Michael C. Schmid, Alexander Maier. Binocular response modulation in the lateral geniculate nucleus. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2019; 527 (3): 522 DOI: 10.1002/cne.24417

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "New findings on eye-signal blending." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190117110803.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2019, January 17). New findings on eye-signal blending. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190117110803.htm
Vanderbilt University. "New findings on eye-signal blending." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190117110803.htm (accessed April 16, 2024).

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