In a new scientific study, researchers have discovered new insights on how vision cells in the brain work. It turns out that they can perform a dual function by detecting both the color of objects and their shape.
Investigating Vision in Monkeys
To conduct the study, the investigators used monkeys. A survey was conducted on at least 4,000 neurons in the visual systems of the monkeys in the test. Four macaques monkeys were used, and the findings of the study are available in a recent issue of Science. The monkeys were made to look at a screen with a series of different objects. These were made up of moving lines. There were 12 different colors involved and different angles of the lines as well. The scientists observed the action in the macaques’ vision cells in the brain. They used some genetic mechanisms to make the cells glow to aid their observations. This allowed them to see how the cells responded as the monkeys processed the information.
The findings are significant because they offer an alternative explanation to the way vision cells in the back of the brain process information on sight. Earlier conclusions about these specialized cells said that vision cells could handle information about one aspect of an object at a time. This aspect could be the object’s color, its shape, or its orientation, for example. After this, it was believed that all this information could then be pieced together at a later stage of visual processing by other brain cells. The new research provides a different theory about how vision cells process information that allows monkeys or human beings to see a complete picture.
It was found that there are multiple neurons that fire in response to different aspects of a single object. This means that these specific nerve cells in the brain are able to multitask effectively. They can respond to both shape and color.