Scientists Gain Important Insights Into how Brain Transfers, Processes and Stores Visual Information

November 7, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Just released research published in prestigious international journal Nature Neuroscience details the findings of an international team of researchers led by Australian scientist and Macquarie University senior lecturer, Dr Mark Williams.

Previously, scientists believed information detected by the eye was transferred to the rear of the brain (occipital cortex) and then transferred on to higher areas for further processing and conscious perception. The occipital cortex was seen as a relay station through which information flowed and was refined, but the real work of consciously seeing involved the higher areas.

Now, the study led by Williams has shown that, contrary to popular belief, the information is passed back to the occipital cortex to a particular region (the foveal retinotopic cortex), which is then involved in our ability to see things in our environment.

"The inner workings of the mammalian brain are incredibly complex and our understanding of the processes at work is still rudimentary," Williams said.

"If we think of the visual system as a complicated web of connections at the rear of the brain, these findings allow us to make better sense of this web by more effectively mapping the way information is transferred and processed."

While applying this newfound knowledge to a clinical setting may still be a long way off, this greater understanding of the brain's inner workings may even eventually help scientists better understand visual impairment.

"That's a long way off, but the potential's there," Williams said. "The brain and eye work together to enable us to see - understanding this process better is the first step in improving a person's visual function."

Dr Williams is a senior lecturer with the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, one of the University's CORE research areas (Concentrations of Research Excellence).

Provided by Macquarie University

Explore further: Virtual reality system helps surgeons, reassures patients

Related Stories

Virtual reality system helps surgeons, reassures patients

July 12, 2017
Having undergone two aneurysm surgeries, Sandi Rodoni thought she understood everything about the procedure. But when it came time for her third surgery, the Watsonville, California, resident was treated to a virtual reality ...

Investigating emotional spillover in the brain

June 16, 2017
Life is full of emotional highs and lows, ranging from enjoying an activity with a loved one and savoring a delicious meal to feeling hurt by a negative interaction with a co-worker or that recent scuffle with a family member. ...

New study advances understanding on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders

June 20, 2017
A new study suggests the existing drug D-cycloserine may enhance recovery for children during treatment for pediatric feeding disorders, by changing their brain's reaction to food. The results are reported in the June 20, ...

Noninvasive brain implant could someday translate thoughts into movement

June 16, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- A brain implant developed at the University of Michigan uses the body's skin like a conductor to wirelessly transmit the brain's neural signals to control a computer, and may eventually be used to reactivate ...

Scientists make brain signal discovery

July 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A Murdoch University scientist is closer to understanding why early brain development is so critical to mental health and function in the long term.

Researchers study how cochlear implants affect brain circuits

June 30, 2016
Four-year-old William Wootton was born profoundly deaf, but thanks to cochlear implants fitted when he was about 18 months old, the Granite Bay preschooler plays with a keyboard synthesizer and reacts to the sounds of airplanes ...

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.