Friday, November 22, 2013

ABC Catalyst S12E07 Bionic Eye

In 2013, a chip was implanted into the retina of someone without sight in order to substitute/augment image processing. While the initial chip provided somewhat low resolution images, a next generation chip will allow the viewer to read large print and recognize human faces. 

"We anticipate that this retinal implant will provide users with increased mobility and independence," said Anthony Burkitt, BVA's research director and an engineering professor at the University of Melbourne.
Check out how the ABC Catalyst S12E07 Bionic Eye works. 

It seems another Star Trek sci-fi technology is coming to real life. Remember Geordi LaForge's visor? The new bionic retina implant is even better and you can get it right here on Earth. Go science! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seeing and Not Seeing

Recent results published in the journal Psychological Science by University of Arizona doctoral degree candidate, Jay Sanguinetti shows that the brain processes and understands visual input that we may never consciously be aware of. In research with his advisor, Mary Peterson, Ph.D., black and white images were shown to subjects while their EEG patterns (brain waves) were observed. The work was specifically focused on seeing the images at the outer edges of the image.

Subjects' brainwaves showed that even if a person never consciously recognized the shapes on the outside of the image, their brains still worked on figuring out their meaning. "There's a brain signature for meaningful processing," Sanguinetti said. "A peak in the averaged brainwaves called N400 indicates that the brain has recognized an object and associated it with a particular meaning. It happens about 400 milliseconds after the image is shown, less than a half a second," said Peterson.

To me, this seems to beg the question of intuition. Is intuition just the brain's unconscious recognition of a subtle visual cue? For example, sometimes you meet someone that just doesn't hit you right. You have no basis for your unease, but later find out he/she was caught stealing or cheating on a test. Perhaps the brain picked up on something and sounded the alarm subconsciously. Hmm... Go Science!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Speedy Bee Vision

The early bird gets the worm could be changed to the quick bee gets the pollen. Recent research has discovered that the photoreceptors in bees' eyes can detect black and white images about 4-5x faster than humans. They can see color 3-4x faster than humans. 

What good is visual speed? Scientists believe vision is important in bees' ability to find flowers and pollen. The high-speed vision might help bees keep track of color in flickering light (e.g., when flying quickly through bushes).

"The scene for the bee would be flickering with different amounts of light and shade, and the color view is potentially changing, from a flower reflecting more light to less light," said study author Peter Skorupski, a researcher at Queen Mary, University of London, in England. Fast color vision could help bees accurately perceive color during flight.

So the next time you bend to sniff a flower and encounter a bee, realize he probably saw you first. Relax and let him go about his pollen collecting business. Go science!