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Kavitha Ratnam, Niklas Domdei, Wolf M. Harmening, Austin Roorda; Benefits of retinal image motion at the limits of spatial vision. Journal of Vision 2017;17(1):30. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.1.30.
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Even during fixation, our eyes are constantly in motion, creating an ever-changing signal in each photoreceptor. Neuronal processes can exploit such transient signals to serve spatial vision, but it is not known how our finest visual acuity—one that we use for deciphering small letters or identifying distant faces and objects—is maintained when confronted with such change. We used an adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope to precisely control the spatiotemporal input on a photoreceptor scale in human observers during a visual discrimination task under conditions with habitual, cancelled or otherwise manipulated retinal image motion. We found that when stimuli moved, acuities were about 25% better than when no motion occurred, regardless of whether that motion was self-induced, a playback of similar motion, or an external simulation. We argue that in our particular experimental condition, the visual system is able to synthesize a higher resolution percept from multiple views of a poorly resolved image, a hypothesis that might extend the current understanding of how fixational eye motion serves high acuity vision.
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