Spatial contrast sensitivity and external noise: applications to optical and neural modulation transfer functions
The thesis will show how to equalise the effect of quantal noise across spatial frequencies by keeping the retinal flux (If-2) constant. In addition, quantal noise is used to study the effect of grating area and spatial frequency on contrast sensitivity resulting in the extension of the new contrast detection model describing the human contrast detection system as a simple image processor. According to the model the human contrast detection system comprises low-pass filtering due to ocular optics, addition of light dependent noise at the event of quantal absorption, high-pass filtering due to the neural visual pathways, addition of internal neural noise, after which detection takes place by a local matched filter, whose sampling efficiency decreases as grating area is increased. Furthermore, this work will demonstrate how to extract both the optical and neural modulation transfer functions of the human eye. The neural transfer function is found to be proportional to spatial frequency up to the local cut-off frequency at eccentricities of 0 - 37 deg across the visual field. The optical transfer function of the human eye is proposed to be more affected by the Stiles-Crawford -effect than generally assumed in the literature. Similarly, this work questions the prevailing ideas about the factors limiting peripheral vision by showing that peripheral optical acts as a low-pass filter in normal viewing conditions, and therefore the effect of peripheral optics is worse than generally assumed.