Lothar Spillmann

Lothar Spillmann

Lothar Spillmann, was for many years Professor in the Brain Research Unit at the University of Freiburg, is Visiting Professor at the Herder Foundation, Bonn, and the China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan. He edited Wolfgang Metgzer’s Laws of Seeing (MIT Press, 2005), another classic work from the Gestalt movement.

ECVP 2007: Correlations between Visual Psychophysics, Neurophysiology and Art

From the late sixties to the early nineties, the Pisa group led by Adriana Fiorentini and Lamberto Maffei pioneered research on the correlations between the psychophysics and neurophysiology of the visual system. Some 100 papers were published-in the very best journals- that drew international researchers from the most prestigious laboratories to Pisa. Psychophysical studies dealt with perceptual correlates of spatial interactions in the visual system, binocular depth perception, adaptation to gratings, contrast in night vision, and monocular rivalry, among others. Neurophysiological studies focused on the analysis of contrast and spatial frequencies in the lateral geniculate and visual cortex, binocular depth discrimination, the unresponsive regions of receptive fields, and spatial frequency rows in the striate cortex. Some of these studies received more than 150 citations. Developmental studies investigated the spatial resolution and neural plasticity of kittens after monocular deprivation and prolonged exposure to gratings. Studies of contrast sensitivity in myopic subjects were later complemented by pharmacological studies of the effect of nerve-growth factors on visual acuity in deprived kittens and dopaminergic drugs in human amblyopes. both psychophysical and VEP recordings were used to investigate binocular-disparity detectors, contrast perception in subjects with normal as well as astigmatic and anisometroptic eyes. Furthermore, the pattern ERG was recorded in human, cat, and monkey in response to alternating gratings. All of this work has had a broad influence in our understanding of visual perception, neurophysiology, and even art.