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Paperback | $32.00 Short | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262517737 | 264 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 25 color illus., 132 b&w illus.| September 2012
Ebook | $32.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262306553 | 264 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 25 color illus., 132 b&w illus.| September 2012
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Vision and Brain

How We Perceive the World


In this accessible and engaging introduction to modern vision science, James Stone uses visual illusions to explore how the brain sees the world. Understanding vision, Stone argues, is not simply a question of knowing which neurons respond to particular visual features, but also requires a computational theory of vision. Stone draws together results from David Marr’s computational framework, Barlow’s efficient coding hypothesis, Bayesian inference, Shannon’s information theory, and signal processing to construct a coherent account of vision that explains not only how the brain is fooled by particular visual illusions, but also why any biological or computer vision system should also be fooled by these illusions.

This short text includes chapters on the eye and its evolution, how and why visual neurons from different species encode the retinal image in the same way, how information theory explains color aftereffects, how different visual cues provide depth information, how the imperfect visual information received by the eye and brain can be rescued by Bayesian inference, how different brain regions process visual information, and the bizarre perceptual consequences that result from damage to these brain regions. The tutorial style emphasizes key conceptual insights, rather than mathematical details, making the book accessible to the nonscientist and suitable for undergraduate or postgraduate study.

About the Author

James V. Stone is a Reader in the Psychology Department of the University of Sheffield. He is coauthor (with John P. Frisby) of the widely used text Seeing: The Computational Approach to Biological Vision (second edition, MIT Press, 2010), and author of Independent Component Analysis: A Tutorial Introduction (MIT Press, 2004).

Table of Contents

  • Vision and Brain
  • Vision and Brain
  • How We Perceive the World
  • James V. Stone
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recor ding, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited, Hong Kong. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Stone, James V., Dr. Vision and brain : how we perceive the world / James V. Stone. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-51773-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Visual perception. 2. Vision. I. Title. BF241.S77 2012 152.14-dc23 2011052297
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • To Verity, Chris, Dorian, and Bob
  • Some may fear that such a materialistic outlook, which regards the brain as a kind of super machine, will take the magic out of life and deprive us of all spiritual values. This is about the same as fearing that a knowledge of human anatomy will prevent us from admiring the human form. Art students and medical students know that the opposite is true. The problem is with the words: if machine implies something with rivets and ratchets and gears, that does sound unromantic. But by machine I mean any object that does tasks in a way that is consonant with the laws of physics, an object that we can ultimately understand in the same way we understand a printing press. I believe the brain is such an object.
  • —David Hubel,
  • Eye, Brain, and Vision
  • (1988)
  • Philosophy is written in this grand book—the universe—which stands continuously open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics . . . without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.
  • —Galileo Galilei (1564–1642),
  • The Assayer
  • Contents
  • Preface ix
  • The Party Trick xiii
  • 1 Vision: An Overview 1
  • 2 Eyes 17
  • 3 The Neuronal Machinery of Vision 33
  • 4 The Visual Brain 81
  • 5 Depth: The Rogue Dimension 113
  • 6 The Perfect Guessing Machine 155
  • 7 The Color of Information 179
  • 8 A Hole in the Head 205
  • 9 Brains, Computation, and Cupcakes 221
  • Further Reading 225
  • References 229
  • Index 241


"Stone has done an excellent job of bringing together many pieces of the visual puzzle, and showing the bigger picture in an engaging, concise, and accessible way for any audience of readers, be they undergraduate or postgraduate."—Paul Hands, Perception


CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2013