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Contrast has an impact on the optokinetic reflex, which enables us to clearly perceive the landscape from a moving train. LMU researchers have now shown that visual features that modulate this ability are encoded in the retina.


Excerpt from LMU press release of November 16, 2017:

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When we gaze out the window of a moving train, our eye muscles are constantly at work, stabilizing the gaze in order to keep the passing landscape in focus. This so-called optokinetic reflex allows us to gauge the relative velocity of the passing scene, and thus helps us to stabilize the rapidly changing images on the retina – otherwise we would perceive what moves past us beyond the carriage window as a diffuse blur. Researchers led by LMU neurobiologist Professor Hans Straka have now shown experimentally that visual image features of the environment play an important role in the analysis and assessment of relative motion. In particular, they find that the levels of contrast determine the efficiency with which the passing parade is perceived by a moving observer. The results of the new study appear in the Journal of Experimental Biology 2017.

LMU press release