Seminar Archive - 2012

December 12, 2012 6-7 p.m.

Speaker: Emily Cooper, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Stanford University

Title: Is Stereo Vision Optimized for our Natural Environment?

Abstract: Many aspects of visual perception are based on regularities in the natural environment. A long-standing but untested theory has proposed that an aspect of binocular vision -- where so-called corresponding points are in the two retinas -- is adapted to the natural environment. This presentation describes a set of experiments that examined this theory. First, we measured whether binocular vision is best near the ground plane. We found, contrary to previous claims, that binocular vision is poorly adapted to the ground plane. In particular, we found that the region of best depth-perception from stereopsis is curved rather than flat. Next we asked if there are patterns in the 3D visual environment for which the curvature is adaptive. To answer this question, we constructed a unique mobile device that simultaneously measures binocular fixations and the 3D-scene layout. Subjects performed normal everyday activities, such as preparing a meal or walking through a park, while we measured where they were looking (including how far away they were looking) and the 3D-scene around them. The resulting data suggests that the region of best binocular vision is indeed well-adapted to the complex patterns of visual input experienced by humans engaged in everyday activities. The presentation includes several 3D demos of data from the mobile tracking device; analglyph (red/cyan) glasses will be provided to the attendees for viewing the demos.

Speaker Biography: Emily Cooper received her B.A. in Psychology and English Literature from the University of Chicago in 2007. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012 (working in Marty Banks' lab), and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University. Emily is the recipient of an NSF Graduate Fellowship and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. Emily's research focuses on binocular vision, picture perception, and perceptual graphics.

Click here to access Emily's slides.