Rutgers research: Discoveries shed new light on how the brain processes what the eye sees

Eye(Newark, NJ) – Researchers at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN) at Rutgers University in Newark have identified the need to develop a new framework for understanding "perceptual stability" and how we see the world with their discovery that visual input obtained during eye movements is being processed by the brain but blocked from awareness.

The process of seeing requires the eyes to move so light can hit the photoreceptors at the center of each retina, which then pass that information to the brain. If we were cognizant of the stimulus that passes before the eyes during the two to three times they move every second, however, vision would consist of a series of sensations of rapid motion rather than a stable perception of the world. To achieve perceptual stability, current theory has held that visual information gained during an eye movement is eliminated, as if cut off by a camera’s shutter, and removed from processing.

As published in Current Biology, significant new research conducted by assistant professor Bart Krekelberg and post-doctoral researcher Tamara L. Watson now shows that theory of saccadic suppression is incorrect and what the brain is doing instead is processing information gained during eye movement but blocking it from being reported.

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