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csandrinic's picture

Was blind but now, I see

I was really interested by the lateral inhibition network that we talked about in class last Tuesday. If I understand correctly, the lateral inhibition network essentially creates the concept of an object; it creates the feeling of constancy despite variations in light conditions. Obviously the wavelength composition of the light that is being reflected from an object is constantly changing depending on the time of day. The thing that was most interesting to me is that there did not seem to be any use of the I-function in creating this constancy. However, I believe that in many ways experience plays a large role in our interpretation of color and objects.

Numerous clinical and physiological studies have shown that people who are born blind and to whom vision is later restored find it very difficult, if not impossible, to learn to see even a few forms. In 1910, two surgeons operated on an eight year old boy and removed the cataracts that had made him blind. They thought that they would miraculously make him see; but when they moved their hands in front of his face and asked what he saw, the boy answered ‘I don’t know’. He could only see vague changes in light, not a moving hand. What can be taken from this example is that without visual input from early developmental stages, it is difficult to develop another essential stage of visual processing. It seems that there is also a physiological aspect of vision. The message that the eyes and the retinas send is pure information. We require another stage in order to interpret and determine what we see.

What I can discern from this, therefore, is that vision is much more of an active process than just light reflecting onto the retina. There is also an external and physical element which has to do with one’s exterior environment; in order to properly recognize an object as such, does the selected visual information have to be compared to our previous knowledge? Then all of the properties that we attach to objects are in fact interpretations that our minds create, rather than actual ‘reality’, and this ‘reality’ relies primarily on our previous experience. Does the I-function therefore play a role in our visual process?


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