Psychophysical investigations of human peripheral vision
This thesis investigates various aspects of peripheral vision, which is known not to be as acute as vision at the point of fixation. Differences between foveal and peripheral vision are generally thought to be of a quantitative rather than a qualitative nature. However, the rate of decline in sensitivity between foveal and peripheral vision is known to be task dependent and the mechanisms underlying the differences are not yet well understood. Several experiments described here have employed a psychophysical technique referred to as 'spatial scaling'. Thresholds are determined at several eccentricities for ranges of stimuli which are magnified versions of one another. Using this methodology a parameter called the E2 value is determined, which defines the eccentricity at which stimulus size must double in order to maintain performance equivalent to that at the fovea. Experiments of this type have evaluated the eccentricity dependencies of detection tasks (kinetic and static presentation of a differential light stimulus), resolution tasks (bar orientation discrimination in the presence of flanking stimuli, word recognition and reading performance), and relative localisation tasks (curvature detection and discrimination). Most tasks could be made equal across the visual field by appropriate magnification. E2 values are found to vary widely dependent on the task, and possible reasons for such variations are discussed. The dependence of positional acuity thresholds on stimulus eccentricity, separation and spatial scale parameters is also examined. The relevance of each factor in producing 'Weber's law' for position can be determined from the results.