Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.616381
Title: The speed of visual processing of complex objects in the human brain : sensitivity to image properties, the influence of aging, optical factors and individual differences
Author: Bieniek, Magdalena Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 017X
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
Visual processing of complex objects is a feat that the brain accomplishes with remarkable speed – generally in the order of a few hundred milliseconds. Our knowledge with regards to what visual information the brain uses to categorise objects, and how early the first object-sensitive responses occur in the brain, remains fragmented. It seems that neuronal processing speed slows down with age due to a variety of physiological changes occurring in the aging brain, including myelin degeneration, a decrease in the selectivity of neuronal responses and a reduced efficiency of cortical networks. There are also considerable individual differences in age-related alterations of processing speed, the origins of which remain unclear. Neural processing speed in humans can be studied using electroencephalogram (EEG), which records the activity of neurons contained in Event-Related-Potentials (ERPs) with millisecond precision. Research presented in this thesis had several goals. First, it aimed to measure the sensitivity of object-related ERPs to visual information contained in the Fourier phase and amplitude spectra of images. The second goal was to measure age-related changes in ERP visual processing speed and to find out if their individual variability is due to individual differences in optical factors, such as senile miosis (reduction in pupil size with age), which affects retinal illuminance. The final aim was to quantify the onsets of ERP sensitivity to objects (in particular faces) in the human brain. To answer these questions, parametric experimental designs, novel approaches to EEG data pre-processing and analyses on a single-subject and group basis, robust statistics and large samples of subjects were employed. The results show that object-related ERPs are highly sensitive to phase spectrum and minimally to amplitude spectrum. Furthermore, when age-related changes in the whole shape of ERP waveform between 0-500 ms were considered, a 1 ms/year delay in visual processing speed has been revealed. This delay could not be explained by individual variability in pupil size or retinal illuminance. In addition, a new benchmark for the onset of ERP sensitivity to faces has been found at ~90 ms post-stimulus in a sample of 120 subjects age 18-81. The onsets did not change with age and aging started to affect object-related ERP activity ~125-130 ms after stimulus presentation. Taken together, this thesis presents novel findings with regards to the speed of visual processing in the human brain and outlines a range of robust methods for application in ERP vision research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.616381  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General)
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