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.
After a severe brain injury, some people remain in a vegetative or minimally conscious state, unable to speak or move intentionally, and apparently unaware of the world around them. But in recent years, neuroscientists have found signs that some of these patients may still be conscious, at least to a degree. Now researchers have used a branch of mathematics called graph theory to search for neural signatures of consciousness.
Few parasitoids are more bizarre or disturbing than the wasps of the genus Glyptapanteles, whose females inject their eggs into living caterpillars. Once inside, the larvae mature, feeding on the caterpillar’s body fluids before gnawing through its skin en masse and emerging into the light of day. And despite the trauma, not only does the caterpillar survive---initially at least---but the larvae proceed to mind-control it, turning their host into a bodyguard that protects them as they spin their cocoons and finish maturing. Then, finally, the caterpillar starves to death, but only after the tiny wasps emerge from their cocoons and fly away.
From their new book A History of Life in 100 Fossils, Paul Taylor and Aaron O'Dea share the story of 10 incredible fossils
We love origin stories. When we see successful groups of animals and plants, we wonder where they came …
First research of its kind shows that tasers could impair a person's memory and thought process
Sometimes the most fascinating animals are the ones that are no longer with us. The oddly named sthenurine is no exception.
Australian banded stilts use mysterious cues to know when to head toward ephemeral lakes in the country’s otherwise dry interior
The intriguing story of how whale evolution was unpicked is told in The Walking Whales, revealing what it's like to be a globe-trotting palaeontologist
Cells derived from embryos appear to have improved vision in more than half of the 18 patients who had become legally blind because of two progressive, currently incurable eye diseases.
Oil rigs are rarely lauded by conservationists, but fish seem to love them – they have more fish living around them than natural rocky reefs do