Understanding the visual cortex

The cortical research aims to better understand the flow of information through the brain’s visual pathways and assess how visual processing is influenced by exposure to different environments.

Humans use around 40% of their brain to process vision. When the eyes see something the signal enters the brain via the thalamus, which organizes the inputs from the two eyes before being sent to the primary visual cortex (V1) at the rear of the brain. However, more often than not other areas of the brain are also receiving visual signals and the traditional hierarchical rules are broken, making it challenging to establish how the brain does in fact process vision.

At the NVRI we investigate the pathways within V1, V2, V4 and V5 to understand how information is transformed between these steps. Our findings have shown that each processing step leads to a more complex signal that is informed by the input from the outside world and the influence of higher level processing in the brain. Ultimately, what we see is determined not just by what is in the visual scene but also by what we want to find in the visual world.