Vision researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute have made a groundbreaking discovery into the optimization of light sources to human vision. By tuning lighting devices to work more efficiently with the human brain the researchers believe billions of dollars in energy costs could be saved.
The research was conducted by Stephen Macknik, PhD, of Barrow's Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology, and Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, of Barrow's Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience. The study is published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, titled "Optimizing the temporal dynamics of light to human perception," is believed to be the first attempt to tune light-emitting devices to the optimal temporal dynamics of the human visual system.
The discovery concerns the way humans perceive temporal modulations of light. For example, most light-emitting devices, such as light bulbs, video monitors and televisions, flicker. Faster flicker rates result in reduced perception of flicker, which is more comfortable to viewers. In studying this phenomenon in the brain, the researchers discovered that there is a range of flicker dynamics of light that optimizes the perceived brightness of the light without increasing power.
"We found a temporal sweet spot in visual perception that can be exploited to obtain significant savings by redesigning light emitting devices to flicker with optimal dynamics to activate visual system neurons in the human brain," says Dr. Macknik.
The researchers estimate that if every light-emitting device in the U.S. – from light bulbs to cell phones – operated at optimal efficiency for the human visual system, it could result in billions of dollars of savings in electricity and power.
To come to their conclusion, the researchers conducted experiments into two contradictory theories of temporal visual perception, or how bright a light appears. Bloch's Law states that the perceived contrast of a visual stimulus increases with its duration, but eventually plateaus at approximately 100 milliseconds. For example, a 5-millisecond flash will appear half as bright as a 10-millisecond flash, but a 200-millisecond flash will be just as bright as one of 400 milliseconds. The Broca-Sulzer Effect, on the other hand, states that perceived contrast increases with duration initially, but then peaks and falls again.
The researchers discovered that the discrepancy between Bloch's Law and the Broca-Sulzer Effect is caused by an intrinsic bias among experiment subjects, leading to dramatically skewed data. By improving their experimental design to overcome this bias, something that has never been before reported or intentionally controlled for, the results demonstrated that temporal vision actually follows the Broca-Sulzer Effect.
"Researchers have been studying temporal vision for more than 125 years, but because ours is the first experiment of its kind to control for all known forms of criteria, it is the first to accurately measure the role of temporal dynamics in brightness perception," says Dr. Macknik. "Thus, the power savings are ripe for the picking because we can adjust our lighting to flicker to take advantage of this peak in perception."
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center: http://www.stjosephs-phx.org
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Bumblebees can recall which flowers yield nectar, but like people they can get mixed up – leading them to home in on flowers they have no experience of
Brain cells that help us predict the intentions of others before they've actively made a decision have been discovered in monkeys
Experiments in mice suggest that treatment of haemophilia could be more successful if the baby's immune system is primed while in the womb
Scientists have recovered cultivated wheat DNA from an 8,000-year-old submerged site off the British coast. The finding suggests hunter-gatherers were trading for the grain long before they grew it.
An exciting fossil find in China points to a 525-million year old sea-dweller who used its new backbone to swim nimbly away from predators
Birds are dinosaurs. That’s a fact underscored by dozens upon dozens of discoveries in the last 30 years.
Eyelashes keep dust out and fend off drying breezes, a study finds. To do that they need to be a very precise length. Extra-long fake eyelashes hurt more than they help.
New research from UCL brings us closer to finding out what’s behind one of our biggest killers
The UK has now become the first country to approve laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.
Three people with paralysed arms had their hands amputated and replaced by prosthetic ones that they control with their mind