SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 3.1: Amedi, A., Merabet, L. B., Bermpohl, F., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2005). The occipital cortex in the blind: Lessons about plasticity and vision. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(6), 306-311. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00387.x

Abstract: Studying the brains of blind individuals provides a unique opportunity to investigate how the brain changes and adapts in response to afferent (input) and efferent (output) demands. We discuss evidence suggesting that regions of the brain normally associated with the processing of visual information undergo remarkable dynamic change in response to blindness. These neuroplastic changes implicate not only processing carried out by the remaining senses but also higher cognitive functions such as language and memory. A strong emphasis is placed on evidence obtained from advanced neuroimaging techniques that allow researchers to identify areas of human brain activity, as well as from lesion approaches (both reversible and irreversible) to address the functional relevance and role of these activated areas. A possible mechanism and conceptual framework for these physiological and behavioral changes is proposed.

Journal Article 3.2: Laeng, B., & Sulutvedt, U. (2014). The eye pupil adjusts to imaginary light. Psychological Science, 25(1), 188-197. doi:10.1177/0956797613503556

Abstract: If a mental image is a re-representation of a perception, then properties such as luminance or brightness should also be conjured up in the image. We monitored pupil diameters with an infrared eye tracker while participants first saw and then generated mental images of shapes that varied in luminance or complexity, while looking at an empty gray background. Participants also imagined familiar scenarios (e.g., a “sunny sky” or a “dark room”) while looking at the same neutral screen. In all experiments, participants’ eye pupils dilated or constricted, respectively, in response to dark and bright imagined objects and scenarios. Shape complexity increased mental effort and pupillary sizes independently of shapes’ luminance. Because the participants were unable to voluntarily constrict their eyes’ pupils, the observed pupillary adjustments to imaginary light present a strong case for accounts of mental imagery as a process based on brain states similar to those that arise during perception.

Journal Article 3.3: Zavagno, D., Tommasi, L., & Laeng, B. (2017). The eye pupil’s response to static and dynamic illusions of luminosity and darkness. i-Perception, 8(4), 2041669517717754. doi:10.1177/2041669517717754

Abstract: Pupil diameters were recorded with an eye-tracker while participants observed cruciform patterns of gray-scale gradients that evoked illusions of enhanced brightness (glare) or of enhanced darkness. The illusions were either presented as static images or as dynamic animations which initially appeared as a pattern of filled squares that--in a few seconds--gradually changed into gradients until the patterns were identical to the static ones. Gradients could either converge toward the center, resulting in a central region of enhanced, illusory, brightness or darkness, or oriented toward each side of the screen, resulting in the perception of a peripheral ring of illusory brightness or darkness. It was found that pupil responses to these illusions matched both the direction and intensity of perceived changes in light: Glare stimuli resulted in pupil constrictions, and darkness stimuli evoked dilations of the pupils. A second experiment found that gradients of brightness were most effective in constricting the pupils than isoluminant step-luminance, local, variations in luminance. This set of findings suggest that the eye strategically adjusts to reflect in a predictive manner, given that these brightness illusions only suggest a change in luminance when none has occurred, the content within brightness maps of the visual scene.