Reducing the size of the human physiological blind spot through training

Miller, Paul A., Wallis, Guy, Bex, Peter J. and Arnold, Derek H. (2015) Reducing the size of the human physiological blind spot through training. Current Biology, 25 17: R747-R748. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.026

Author Miller, Paul A.
Wallis, Guy
Bex, Peter J.
Arnold, Derek H.
Title Reducing the size of the human physiological blind spot through training
Journal name Current Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-9822
Publication date 2015-08-31
Year available 2015
Sub-type Letter to editor, brief commentary or brief communication
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.026
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 25
Issue 17
Start page R747
End page R748
Total pages 2
Place of publication Cambridge, MA United States
Publisher Cell Press
Language eng
Abstract The physiological blind spot refers to a zone of functional blindness all normally sighted people have in each eye, due to an absence of photoreceptors where the optic nerve passes through the surface of the retina. Here we report that the functional size of the physiological blind spot can be shrunk through training to distinguish direction signals at the blind spot periphery. Training on twenty successive weekdays improved sensitivity to both direction and colour, suggesting a generalizable benefit. Training on one blind spot, however, did not transfer to the blind spot in the untrained eye, ruling out mediation via a generic practice effect; nor could training benefits be attributed to eye movements, which were monitored to ensure stable fixation. These data suggest that training enhances the response gains of neurons with receptive fields that partially overlap, or abut, the physiological blind spot, thereby enhancing sensitivity to weak signals originating primarily from within the functionally-defined region of blindness 1, 2 and 3. Our results have important implications for situations where localised blindness has been acquired through damage to components of the visual system 4 and 5, and support proposals that these situations might be improved through perceptual training 5, 6 and 7.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Letter to editor, brief commentary or brief communication
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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