Standard Article

Physiological Optics

  1. Martin Jüttner

Published Online: 15 JUL 2004

DOI: 10.1002/3527600434.eap299.pub2

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

How to Cite

Jüttner, M. 2004. Physiological Optics. Encyclopedia of Applied Physics. .

Author Information

  1. Aston University, Aston Triangle, Neuroscience Research Institute, School of Life & Health Sciences, Birmingham, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2004


Physiological optics is concerned with the perceptual processes in the eye and its associated neuronal structures in the brain. This article provides an overview of the structure and functionality of the visual system, and of experimental and analytical techniques used to study the principles of visual information processing. First, the anatomy of the eye and the various stages of the optical pathway from the retina to the visual cortex are considered in some detail. The concept of receptive fields is introduced and related to the theoretical framework of spatial-frequency channels. A range of tools and techniques used in neurophysiological and psychophysical vision research are reviewed and compared. This provides the basis for a detailed discussion of elementary visual sensations, including the perception of brightness, depth, movement, and shape, both with regard to their phenomenology and their neurophysiological foundations. Finally, the role of such elementary sensations for higher-level visual processes is considered by relating them to current theories of object recognition.


  • vision;
  • eye;
  • retina;
  • brightness sensation;
  • motion perception;
  • depth perception;
  • pattern recognition;
  • illusions