Night vision gear or Thermal vison gear shows us a picture of reality where certain aspects are amplified. Small differences in temperature are amplfified and then turned into different colors, or very low levels of light can be amplified by Night Vision goggles. It would seem that our visual sensory apparatus does a similar thing, preferentially highlighting edges, or being highly sensitive to motion in the periphery, or looking for different patterns or shapes. Because we have no experience seeing any other way, we are generally unaware of our biased vision.
While our ganglion cells are not good photoreceptors, but are good edge detectors, there must be parts of the eye and brain that receive more accurate details, at least from the fovia, right? Intuitively, I believe that my visual sensory apparatus sends a pretty accurate picture of reality to my brain. It only seems to have problems in special contrived circumstances.
the edge effect occurs at the level of ganglion cells. It is a sensory wiring effect, rather than a processing effect. Do other quirks of vision occur at high levels?
Can we do single cell recording simultaneously from all the cells in an entire nerve, say, the Optic nerve? What if we have a good idea of the part of the field of view that each neuron is recording from, could we recreate the image on a screen? What is the form of the visual information at the point when it leaves the eyeball in the optic nerve?
A pattern of action potentials in lots of gangion cell axons, of course (beginning from your last question). And yes, we could try and infer what is being looked at from the pattern of action potentials, but it would yield lots of different possible pictures instead of a unique single picture (you see why? and that the rest of the nervous system faces the same problem?). IF we could record from all of the axons (there are too many for any existing or currently imaginable technology).
Are you sure you want to argue for a sharp distinction between "sensory wiring" and "processing"? How are you going to make it? Its all patterns of activity in neurons. But, yes, there are additional edge effects more centrally in the nervous system. And yes, there are differences between ganglion cell responses centrally and more peripherally, but lateral inhibition (to varying degrees) is present throughout the retina.
Now, IF all this is true, and IF we are "generally unaware of our biased vision", and IF showing all this is easier in "special contrived circumstances" but applies more generally (which it does), what is the basis for your intuitive feeling that the visual apparatus "sends a pretty accurate picture of reality to my brain"? That's not a trick question, but rather one worth thinking about and trying to generate an answer to. PG