Scientists have better insight into how we see

November 10th, 2008 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 10 (IANS) Scientists now have a better insight into how the mammalian brain transfers, processes and stores visual information.The study, led by Mark Williams, senior lecturer at the Macquarie University, said: “The inner workings of the mammalian brain are incredibly complex and our understanding of the processes at work is still rudimentary.”

“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.”

Previously, scientists believed information detected by the eye was transferred to the rear of the brain (occipital cortex) and then transferred for further processing and conscious perception.

The occipital cortex was seen as just a relay station through which information flowed and was refined. But the new study has shown that the information is passed back to the occipital cortex, which is then involved in our ability to see things, according to a release of Macquarie University.

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 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.”

These findings were published in Nature Neuroscience.

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