Its research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.
A group of neuroscientists have found a novel connection between brain architecture and behaviour.
Professors at NYU’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology Jonathan Winawer and Marisa Carrasco, Himmelberg’s co-authors on the Nature Communications article, aimed to provide light on the relationship between these brain characteristics and how humans see.
“We have found that we can predict how well someone can see based on the unique structure of their primary visual cortex,” explains lead author Marc Himmelberg, a postdoctoral researcher in New York University’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology. “By showing that individual variation in the structure of the human visual brain is linked to variation in visual functioning, we can better understand what underlies differences in how people perceive and interact with their visual environment.”
An outline of the image that is emitted from the eye is organised in the primary visual cortex (V1). However, it is distorted, with certain areas of the image being larger than others, similar to many different types of maps.
This is as a result of V1 having more tissue devoted to the focal point of our field of vision. Similar to V2, V1 also magnifies areas to the left and right of where our eyes are fixating in comparison to areas above or below, again due to variations in the organisation of cortical tissue.
The researchers measured the size of more than two dozen persons’ primary visual cortex, sometimes known as “V1,” using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The amount of V1 tissue these people had allocated to processing visual data from various points in their field of view, including those to the left, right, above, and below fixation, was also measured by the researchers.
Along with the V1 measurements, these individuals completed a task intended to evaluate the quality of their vision at the same points in their field of view. The capacity to distinguish between different images was measured by the participants’ ability to differentiate between the orientation of patterns displayed on a computer screen.
The findings suggested that variations in V1 surface area could be able to forecast assessments of people’s contrast sensitivity.
In the beginning, those with a large V1 had better overall contrast sensitivity than people with a small V1 (the largest surface area is 1,776 square millimetres [mm2] and the smallest is 832 mm2).
Second, compared to individuals with less cortical tissue devoted to the same region, those whose V1 had more cortical tissue processing visual information from a particular place in their field of vision had stronger contrast sensitivity in that area.
Third, across participants, regions with more or less cortical tissue corresponded to stronger contrast sensitivity at a particular location (for example, left) than at another place equally distance from fixation (for example, top).
“In sum, the more local V1 surface area dedicated to encoding a specific location, the better the vision at that location,” concludes Carrasco. “Our findings show differences in visual perception are inextricably linked to differences in the structure of the primary visual cortex in the brain.”