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Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Science (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Supervisor

Hong-Jin Sun

Co-Supervisor

Daniel Goldreich, Jim Lyons, Scott Watter

Language

English

Committee Member

Daniel Goldreich, Jim Lyons, Scott Watter

Abstract

Based on evidence from studies involving animal single cell recording, animal brain lesion, and human brain damage, researchers have suggested that there may be differential visual representations for objects in near (peripersonal, within arm’s reach) and far (extrapersonal, beyond arm’s reach) space in the human visual system. The findings in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of the present thesis provide the first behavioural evidence suggesting that healthy human observers prefer to rely on different visual mechanisms in processing information in near and far spaces. The different performance in detecting visual targets presented in near and far space indicates that the brain can actively modulate the information processing either in parvocellular and magnocellular pathways or in ventral and dorsal streams.
To determine the loci of the neural modulation regarding near and far viewing, visual identification tasks were employed in Chapter 4. In four experiments, visual stimuli were presented in either isoluminant green or achromatic white in order to decouple the neural processing in parvocellular and magnocellular pathways. The different patterns of the visual performance in the four experiments suggest that the change to near or far viewing distance results in altered information transmission in parvocellular and magnocellular pathways. Thus, the data in the present thesis provide the first behavioural evidence indicating that the LGN serves as a gatekeeper for regulating and redistributing visual information for later cortical analysis.

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