Vision

A breakthrough in understanding how cataracts form could be used to help prevent the world's leading cause of blindness, which currently affects nearly 20 million people worldwide. 

It has long been known that human eyes have a powerful ability to focus because of three kinds of crystallin proteins in their lenses, maintaining transparency via a delicate balance of both repelling and attracting light.

Two types of crystallin are structural, but the third – dubbed a "chaperone" – keeps the others from clumping into cataracts if they're modified by genetic mutation, ultraviolet light or chemical damage.


What color is H? Is 4 brighter than 9?

Those questions don't make sense to many people but for people with grapheme-color synesthesia, they have real answers.


Women can tell when someone's eyes aren't on her face and are instead looking at her body - because it happens all of the time. Men do it ... and so do other women. At least when they are in college.

The oft-rumored "objectifying gaze" is not just anecdotal evidence, say psychologists who set out to document the nature of roving eyes when it came to women's bodies. A new study employed eyetracking technology to map the visual behavior of college aged men and women as they viewed images of different females with different body types. 


Less than two weeks in space may be enough to cause profound changes in eye structure and gene expression, according to a new report based on a small study.

The study looked at how low gravity and radiation and oxidative damage impacts mice and examines eye-related gene expression and cell behavior after spaceflight, but the subject size was too limited to be conclusive - 18 mice in nine different condition groups, due to limited aboard orbital missions. 


During a space shuttle mission on October 30th, 2007, astronauts set out to install two solar panels on the truss of the International Space Station (ISS). The first panel deployed successfully but they noticed a two-foot-wide tear in the second panel. 

To repair it, they had to send someone on a spacewalk while tethered to the shuttle’s inspection arm. Mercury astronauts wouldn't have blinked at the idea but modern NASA has a zero risk tolerance so not only was it dangerous - the robotic arm hadn't been used in such a way, a wrong move could have electrocuted the astronaut - but it also had political implications if an accident happened. 

Video games have beem widely available to the home market for 40 years, which means there have been 40 years of concern about what impact, negative or positive, they may have.

Soon after the first video games such as Pong and Space Invaders hit the market in the 1970s, psychologists and neuroscientists began to investigate whether playing video games might be beneficial to the brain.  Proponents speak of the neuroscience benefit of time-pressured deployment, flexible allocation, of attention as well as precise bi-manual movements while detractors worry about the time spent away from doing other things and that video games may inspire violent behavior. 

A new paper says that words can play a powerful role in what we perceive.What we see is a function not only of incoming visual information, but also how that information is interpreted in light of other visual experiences, and may even be influenced by language.

"Perceptual systems do the best they can with inherently ambiguous inputs by putting them in context of what we know, what we expect," says lead author and University of Wisconsin–Madison psychology professor Gary Lupyan. "Studies like this are helping us show that language is a powerful tool for shaping perceptual systems, acting as a top-down signal to perceptual processes. In the case of vision, what we consciously perceive seems to be deeply shaped by our knowledge and expectations."


Researchers writing in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology suggest that incubating retinal cells with vegetable oils induces biochemical and biophysical changes in the cell membrane, which may have a beneficial effect in preventing or slowing the development of retinopathy.

Dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells is found in retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness of elderly people in developed countries. 


If you have to have light at night, a new study suggests that the color can make a big difference in how (un)healthy it is - and the answer is counter-intuitive.


Though the color blue is believed to have a calming effect, a study involving hamsters found that blue light had the worst effects on mood-related measures, followed closely by white light. The best? Red.  

Hamsters exposed to red light at night had significantly less evidence of depressive-like symptoms and changes in the brain linked to depression, compared to those that experienced blue or white light. Total darkness is still best.


The visual cortex is a fantastical portion of the brain, and one which is enlarged in our species to the extent that we can use our eyes to make sense of the world around us in amazing detail. We notice colours, shapes, motion, direction, and even three dimensions, allowing the brain to generate a coherent percept of the visual scene. Many primates like ourselves are extremely visual animals, and rely on eyes not only to inform about the world around us, but to warn of impending danger or alert about opportunity.