October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Psychophysical discrimination of structured light exhibiting spatially-dependent polarization
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrew E. Silva
    University of Waterloo
  • Dusan Sarenac
    University of Waterloo
  • Connor kapahi
    University of Waterloo
  • David G. Cory
    University of Waterloo
  • Ivar Taminiau
    University of Waterloo
  • Dmitry A. Pushin
    University of Waterloo
  • Ben Thompson
    University of Waterloo
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This work was supported by the Canadian Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program, NSERC grants RGPIN-2018-04989, RPIN-05394, RGPAS-477166, the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program, and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 265. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.265
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      Andrew E. Silva, Dusan Sarenac, Connor kapahi, David G. Cory, Ivar Taminiau, Dmitry A. Pushin, Ben Thompson; Psychophysical discrimination of structured light exhibiting spatially-dependent polarization. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):265. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.265.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Haidinger’s brush is an entoptic image of a central oblong smudge elicited when the macular pigment preferentially absorbs specific direction of polarized light. Because Haidinger’s brush is dependent on macular pigment, it may have value as a screening tool for macular dysfunction. We examined whether healthy human observers could use Haidinger’s brush to psychophysically discriminate between two beams of structured light exhibiting different patterns of spatially-dependent polarization, called spin-coupled Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) states. Because the direction of polarization changes across the beam, OAM discrimination requires the perception of a spatially-dependent pattern of multiple Haidinger’s brush orientations. This richer stimulus may provide more precise information about macular function than a traditional linearly polarized stimulus. We examined the discriminability of OAM states by monocularly presenting OAM light to the eyes of 12 healthy participants. On each trial, one of two possible OAM states was presented. Participants made self-directed saccades to observe the Haidinger’s brush pattern and verbally indicated the perceived state. Overall, participants successfully performed the discrimination task (68% accuracy, SD = 22%, p = 0.013). This study provides foundational confirmation that humans can discriminate quantized modes of structured light with varying degrees of success. Structured light may therefore serve as a sensitive psychophysical probe of individual differences in macula structure and function in normal and clinical populations.

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