Navigation Links
New insights into how the brain reconstructs the third dimension

This press release is available in German.

As dizzying as it may sound, the impression that we are living in a 3D world is actually a continuous fabrication of our brains. When we look at things, the world gets projected onto the retina and information about the third dimension is lost a bit like when a 3D object casts a shadow onto a flat, 2D wall. Somehow the brain is able to reconstruct the third dimension from the image, allowing us to experience a convincing 3D world. A team of scientists from Giessen University, Yale and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tbingen has recently discovered how cells in visual cortex might help solve this mystery. They created special 2D patterns designed to stimulate specific nerve cells when we look at them. They find that the result is a vivid illusion of 3D shape, which suggests these cells play an important role in reconstructing 3D shape.

"We created the images by taking random noise and smearing it out across the image in specific patterns. It's a bit like finger painting, except it's done by computer", explains Roland Fleming, Professor of Psychology at the University of Giessen. "The way the texture gets smeared out is not the way texture behaves in the real 3D world. But it allows us to selectively stimulate so-called 'complex cells' in visual cortex, which measure the local 2D orientation of patterns in the retinal image".

These cells whose discovery led to a Nobel Prize for David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel are often described as 'edge detectors' because they respond to boundaries or edges in the image. What was not known was that these cells could play a key role in estimating 3D shape.

"We asked people to adjust small probes to report what they saw. The settings allow us to reconstruct exactly which 3D shapes they perceived," says Heinrich Blthoff, director of the department of Human Perception, Cognition and Action at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. "What's striking is how close the results are to predictions of a model based on cell responses".

The authors suggest the strongest evidence implicating the cells comes from an experiment in which participants stared at patterns for 30 seconds at a time, to change the way the cells respond. The resulting 'adaptation' causes random noisewhich normally looks completely flatto appear like a specific 3D shape.

"It's a kind of aftereffect, a bit like when you stare at a waterfall for a while, adaptation makes things that are stationary look like they are moving in the opposite direction. Except here, the aftereffect makes the noise look 3D," says Daniel Holtmann-Rice, who is currently doing his PhD at Yale University. "We didn't think it was going to work. It was so exciting to get the first data where we could clearly see the predicted shapes emerging in the participants' settings."

The authors are currently working on generalizing the findings to other kinds of information about 3D shape, such as shading and highlights.

Contact: Heinrich Blthoff

Related biology news :

1. New papers offer insights into process of malarial drug resistance
2. Mixing genomics and geography yields insights into life and environment
3. New insights into a leading poultry disease and its risks to human health
4. New paper offers key insights into how new species emerge
5. Mixed population provides insights into human genetic makeup
6. Addiction: Insights from Parkinsons disease
7. Lohafex provides new insights on plankton ecology
8. New insights into progressive hearing loss
9. First neuroimaging study examining motor execution in children with autism reveals new insights
10. Limping rat provides sciatica insights
11. Researchers gain genome-wide insights into patterns of the worlds human population structures
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New insights into how the brain reconstructs the third dimension
(Date:11/9/2015)... Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... announced broader entry into the automotive market with a ... the pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, ... ideal for the automotive industry and will be implemented ... Europe , Japan , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... RESTON, Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... announced today that it has released a new version ... Daon customers in North America ... gains. IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF ... customers are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... In the present market scenario, security is ... industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, electronic gadgets, ... for secure & simplified access control and growing rate ... of bank accounts, misuse of users, , and so ... laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide potential opportunities ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... ADDISON, Texas (PRWEB) , ... ... ... International , a leading relationship marketing company specializing in scientifically backed, age-defying ... magazine’s January 2016 issue, which highlights the exponential success and unrivaled opportunities ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- Cepheid (Nasdaq: CPHD ) today announced that, ... Healthcare Conference in New York City ... outlook for the fourth quarter of 2015 and initiating ... term business model expectations. John Bishop , ... be the fastest growing company of the major market ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... meeting this month and Dr. J. Kyle Mathews will join fellow ... the new single site hysterectomy. , An experienced urogynecologist, founder of Plano Urogynecology ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , December 1, 2015 ... of the  "2016 U.K. Virology and Bacteriology ... for 100 Tests, Supplier Shares by Test, ... to their offering.  --> ... "2016 U.K. Virology and Bacteriology Testing Market: ...
Breaking Biology Technology: