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Visual Information Essay

1758 words - 7 pages

Visual information is seen because light passes through the cornea and is focused by the lens as an inverted image on the retina (Ellis, 2004). The retina is composed of photoreceptor cells; rods and cones with the greatest density of cones situated within the fovea, thus vision is sharpest for images and information projected to the fovea (Ellis, 2004). Subsequently visual information of lateralized foveal stimuli projects to the cerebral hemisphere within the brain. In the brain, the left visual hemifield projects to the right hemisphere and the right visual hemifield projects to the left hemisphere (Lavidor, Ellis, Shillcock & Bland, 2001). Generally for most individuals (in particular right handed), visual recognition of words and information is more efficient for display within the right visual field. However it is debated whether foveal information lateralized within the left or right visual field is double-projected to both hemispheres or unilaterally projected to the contralateral hemisphere because the fovea is anatomically split and there is differential contribution of the two hemiretinae.

Two theories have been put forward regarding how visual information is projected to the hemispheres. According to the split fovea theory, hemispheric division in processes occurs right up to the point of fixation. When the eyes are fixated within a written word visual information about the letters falling to the left of fixation initially projects to the right cerebral hemisphere, whilst visual information about the letters falling to the right of fixation project to the left cerebral hemisphere. Foveal processing is split so precisely at the vertical midline that all letters at either side of fixation project (unilaterally) to the contralateral hemisphere and because of this sharp division in hemispheric processing, shifts in fixation between adjacent letters in words produce substantial effects in visual word recognition (Ellis & Brysbaert, 2010). By contrast, the bilateral projection theory proposes that there is an area of overlap at the centre of the fovea where information projects simultaneously to both hemispheres (Jordan & Paterson, 2009). It can be seen that both theories have very different views regarding how visual information is projected within the hemisphere.

A basic source of evidence commonly cited in favor of the split fovea theory is from hemianopia patients (i.e. patients who have had a loss of vision in one visual field as a consequence of unilateral ablation of the primary visual cortex). Trauzettel-Klosinski and Reinhard (1998),and Reinhard and Trauzettel-Klosinski (2003), showed in two studies that foveal macular sparing is due to spared functioning of the affected cerebral hemisphere. Foveal macular sparing can be explained as a result of either scattering of light across the retina to portions that lay across the vertical meridian which project to intact visual cortex or to preserve functioning of parts of the...

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