From Medical Xpress:

Context is essential: The people in the picture are the same size but appear larger with increasing distance. Credit: Sonja Hofer

The thalamus not only relays visual signals from the eye to the visual cortex as previously thought, but also conveys additional, contextual information. Integrating these different signals is essential to understand and interpret what we see in the world around us. Prof. Sonja Hofer and her research team at the Biozentrum, University Basel, investigate how the brain processes visual stimuli and how contextual information shapes our visual perception. Their latest findings are reported in Nature Neuroscience.

As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, our brain is flooded with images. Information about these images is sent from the eyes to a brain region called the , and from there on to the . The visual cortex, which comprises the largest part of the human brain, is responsible for analyzing visual information and allows us to see. In contrast, the thalamus has until now been considered mostly as a relay for visual information. The research team led by Prof. Sonja Hofer at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has discovered in mice that a special part of the thalamus—called the Pulvinar—supplies the visual cortex with additional, non-visual information.

Contextual information is essential for visual perception

What we see is not only based on the signals that our eyes send to our brain, but is influenced strongly by the context the visual stimulus is presented in, on…

Continue Reading