Jocelyn Faubert as NSERC-Essilor Research Chair

I’ve blogged previously about Points de Vue and the most recent issue, which arrived in the mail yesterday, contains a fascinating look at the work of Jocelyn Faubert, Ph.D., FAAO and his team at the School of Optometry, University of Montreal in Canada.  You can watch an interview with Dr Faubert on the magazine’s website, which is a teaser to the article.  Dr. Faubert summarized his team’s work by grouping their studies into five broad categories:

1. Aging and Maturation of the Visual-Perceptual Process.  Visual information is characterized as three levels of categorical perception: a) low-level such as luminance and color; b) mid-level such as symmetry, texture, curvature and stereoscopy; c) and mid to hi-level such as face perception and biological motion.  Their findings are consistent with the theory that functional deficits due to aging are proportional to the amount of neural machinery required to process the image or visual scene.  As an Essilor funded group, they naturally are interested in minimizing problematic lens-induced distortions for different age populations.

2. Dynamic Visual Perturbation and Balance Control.  The impact of dynamic visual perturbations such as optic flow on balance control, with particular attention to the effects of lens induced changes on postural control in immersive virtual environments.  The effects of a variety of visual stimuli were studied in the CAVE paradigm, most recently including the impact of cognitive load combined with visual perturbations on postural sway.

3. Visual Exploration Such As Eye-Head Strategies.  How we move our eyes and head as a unit, or independently, dramatically impacts the dynamics of visual stimulation.  Every new PAL wearer discovers this quickly.  This led to Essilor’s introduction of the  Ipseo progressive addition lens, and the increased attention to the effects of optic flow on visual perception under ecological conditions of real-world environments rather than the typical office or lab.  The lens is an attempt to approach lens design that is ideally cusomized to the individual’s visual behavior.

4. Perceptual-Cognitive Processing of Dynamic Visual Scenes.  Moving around in complex scenes, such as a dense crowd in a theater or mall, or when driving in congested traffic, can create sudden change in visual dynamics.  Objects may tend to become occluded, then re-appear while the individual is attending to multiple elements.  Though the article does not use behavioral vision terminology, we are used to thinking of what is described in terms of central/perihpheral integration.  The example given, for keeping simultaneous awareness of tracking objects peripherally, is called 3D-MOT (for 3D Multiple Object Tracking).  In a TED talk in 2010, Dr. Faubert addressed this in the context of visual design considerations for dense populations in urban environments.

Aside from Essilor’s obvious interest in studying the effects of wearing various customized PAL designs on visual behavior and judgment including orientation and mobility in presbyopic population, it is noteworthy that Dr. Faubert’s research interests include sports vision, driver’s vision, mTBI, and autism.

5. Multisensory Integration.  Visual information is rarely processed in isolation.  A visual stimulus is often accompanied by sound or touch, particularly when in proximity.  In order to understand how we process complex visual scenes, we must understand how these multiple senses interact.  This is considered in the concept of non-linear stochastic resonance that Faubert’s group has published, addressing ubiquitous crossmodal  interactions between the auditory system and visual, tactile, and proprioceptive sensations.  Though this sounds like a mouthful, Faubert gives the example of auditory or tactile input to improve visual contrast sensitivity.

Here is a compilation of  Faubert’s publications.

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