GL Brown Prize Lecture: Andrew J. Parker of the University of Oxford

19 October 2018

Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

About the GL Brown Prize Lecture:

In 1975 The Physiological Society established the GL Brown Prize Lecture in his memory; this is an annual series of peripatetic lectures aimed to stimulate an interest in physiology. Subject to the agreement of the Editorial Board, this lecture is published in Experimental Physiology.

2018 Lecture:

Seeing depth with two eyes: the binocular physiology of 3D space

Neurons that are specifically tuned to binocular depth were discovered in seminal work published 50 years ago by Horace Barlow, Colin Blakemore and Jack Pettigrew in the Journal of Physiology. Their study in the primary visual cortex opened up the era of understanding the physiology of 3-D perception. Thanks to more recent work, we now know that large areas of the extrastriate visual cortex are involved. Sites where binocular stereoscopic depth is integrated with other visual information can be identified and physiological signals related to active perceptual decisions about depth can be isolated. At some sites, a causal role of physiological signals for the perception of depth can be demonstrated by showing that weak electrical microstimulation of the cortex can alter behavioural reports of depth perception. However, there seems to be no single brain module that is responsible for computing stereoscopic depth. This lecture will trace these paths of discovery in human and animal studies. Andrew Parker will show how a better understanding of the physiology of depth perception changes our view of how the brain constructs a representation of the space around us. Findings from this neurophysiological research have implications for the growing popularity of 3-D cinema and immersive virtual reality.


Diagram of the eyes - GL Brown Lecture

Figure 1: Diagram of the eyes by Ibn Al Haytham, Book of Optics (1011-1021)



Physiological receptive field of neuron- GL Brown Lecture



Figure 2: Physiological receptive field of neuron in primary visual cortex projected out into depth on horizontal plane through the eyes.








Andrew J. Parker is currently Professor of Neuroscience and Fellow of St John's College at the University of Oxford.  He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where he remained to complete his PhD.  He moved to the University of Oxford with a Beit Memorial Fellowship and was appointed to the faculty in 1985. His research explores many aspects of spatial vision and the neuronal mechanisms of perceptual decisions, but especially concentrates on the neurophysiology and neuro-imaging of stereoscopic vision.  He has held a Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship and a Wolfson Merit Award from the Royal Society and recently held a Presidential International Fellowship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Andrew Parke - GL Brown Lecture

Figure 3: Andrew J Parker, Professor of Neuroscience, University of Oxford