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Zhou, Bin; Pöppel, Ernst; Wang, Lingyan; Yang, Taoxi; Zaytseva, Yuliya; Bao, Yan (2016): Seeing without knowing: Operational principles along the early visual pathway. In: Psych Journal, Vol. 5, No. 3: pp. 145-160
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Abstract

Single cases may lead to unexpected hypotheses in psychology. We retrospectively analyzed single case studies that suggested organizational principles along the early visual pathway, which have remained unanswered until now. First case: In spite of the inhomogeneity of sensitivity, paradoxically the visual field on the subjective level appears to be homogeneous;constancy of brightness of supra-threshold stimuli throughout the visual field is claimed to be responsible for homogeneity;specific summation properties of retinal ganglion cells are hypothesized to guarantee this effect. Second case: With a brain-injured patient having suffered a partial visual field loss it can be shown that color induction is a retinal phenomenon;lateral inhibitory processes at the level of amacrine cells are hypothesized as neural network. Third case: In a patient having suffered a bilateral occipital lobe infarction, some functional recovery has been demonstrated;divergence and convergence of projection in the ascending neural pathway are suggested as a structural basis for recovery. Slowed down binocular rivalry discloses a sequential mechanism in the construction of a visual percept. Fourth case: The pre-wired projection of the retina to the visual cortex in spite of a severe squint of one eye is confirmed, but paradoxically some local neuroplasticity is also suggested. Fifth case: Using habituation of local sensitivity in the visual field and its resetting by interhemispheric interactions as an experimental paradigm, it is suggested that spatial attention is controlled at the midbrain level. Sixth case: Observations on residual vision or blindsight support the hypothesis that the visual cortex is the one and only structure responsible for visual perception on a conscious level. The unifying principle of these retrospective analyses is that subjective visual phenomena can lead to unexpected but testable hypotheses of neural processing on the structural and functional level in the early visual pathway.