The Neurology of Vision

  • Linus D. SunEmail author


It is estimated that nearly half of the brain’s neurons are connected directly to the retina and involved in the processing of vision, attesting to the paramount importance of vision in brain functioning. For more than a century, scientists have investigated the visual system through studies of its complex anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. Although we are still at the early stages of understanding vision, great progress is being made toward deciphering how the brain interprets shapes, objects, movement, location, and facial recognition. The optics of the cornea and lens project focused images of the external world onto the retina. However, the experience and conscious interpretation of visual phenomena involve structures in the cortex and brain stem. Scientists have only begun to decode and build neural network models to simulate and explain how what we experience as vision is processed and interpreted by the brain.


Neurology of vision Retina Retinal ganglion cells Visual pathway Eye and brain Optical system 

Suggested Reading

  1. Adams DL, Sincich LC, Horton JC. Complete pattern of ocular dominance columns in human primary visual cortex. J Neurosci. 2007;27(39):10391–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett AA. Aristotle and averted vision. R Astron Soc Can J. 1977;71(4):327.Google Scholar
  3. Guillery RW, Sherman SM. Thalamic relay functions and their role in corticocortical communication: generalizations from the visual system. Neuron. 2002;33(2):163–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Horton JC, Trobe JD. Akinetopsia from nefazodone toxicity. Am J Ophthalmol. 1999;128(4):530–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hubel DH. Eye, Brain, and Vision (Scientific American Library series : no 22). 1995.Google Scholar
  6. Lal R, Friedlander MJ. Effect of passive eye position changes on retinogeniculate transmission in the cat. J Neurophysiol. 1990;63(3):502–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lindstrom S, Wrobel A. Intracellular recordings from binocularly activated cells in the cat’s dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 1990;50(3):61–70.Google Scholar
  8. McAlonan K, Cavanaugh J, Wurtz RH. Attentional modulation of thalamic reticular neurons. J Neurosci. 2006;26(16):4444–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Moeller S, Freiwald WA, Tsao DY. Patches with links: a unified system for processing faces in the macaque temporal lobe. Science. 2008;320(5881):1355–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pelak VS, Hoyt WF. Symptoms of akinetopsia associated with traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease. Neuro-Ophthalmology. 2005;29:137–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Poggio GF, Motter BC, Squatrito S, Trotter Y. Responses of neurons in visual cortex (V1 and V2) of the alert macaque to dynamic random-dot stereograms. Vis Res. 1985;25(3):397–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Schmid MC, Mrowka SW, Turchi J, Saunders RC, Wilke M, Peters AJ, et al. Blindsight depends on the lateral geniculate nucleus. Nature. 2010;466(7304):373–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology, Edward S. Harkness Eye InstituteColumbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations