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Nature. 1983 Mar 31-Apr 6;302(5907):419-22.

What does the eye see best?


Our eyes see so much in such varied conditions that one might consider the question posed in the title to be meaningless, but we show here that, within the range that we have been able to test, there is a particular spatiotemporal pattern of light that is detected better than any other. At least two plausible theories of visual detection predict that a stimulus will be seen best (will have greatest quantum efficiency) when it matches the weighting function of the most efficient detector. We have measured quantum efficiency for detecting a wide variety of spatiotemporal patterns using foveal vision in bright light. The best stimulus found so far is a small, briefly exposed circular patch of sinusoidal grating having a spatial frequency of approximately 7 c deg-1, drifting at approximately 4 Hz. We propose that this is the weighting function of the most efficient human contrast detector. We believe this answer to the question is unexpected and may have fundamental implications with regard to the mechanisms of visual perception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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