Polarization perception in humans: on the origin of and relationship between Maxwell’s spot and Haidinger’s brushes


Under specific conditions of illumination and polarization, differential absorption of light by macular pigments is perceived as the entoptic phenomena of Maxwell’s spot (MS) or Haidinger’s brushes (HB). To simulate MS and HB, an existing computational model of polarization-dependent properties of the human macula was extended by incorporating neuronal adaptation to stabilized retinal images. The model predicted that polarized light modifies the appearance of MS leading to the perception of a novel phenomenon. The model also predicted a correlation between the observed diameters of MS and HB. Predictions were tested psychophysically in human observers, whose measured differences in the diameters of each entoptic phenomenon generated with depolarized and linearly polarized light were consistent with the model simulations. These findings support a common origin of each phenomenon, and are relevant to the clinical use of polarization stimuli in detecting and monitoring human eye disorders, including macular degeneration. We conclude: (i) MS and HB both result from differential light absorption through a radial diattenuator, compatible with the arrangement of macular pigments in Henle fibres; (ii) the morphology of MS is dependent on the degree of linear polarization; (iii) perceptual differences between MS and HB result from different states of neural adaptation.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56916-8
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Optometry
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Optometry & Vision Science Research Group (OVSRG)
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Centre for Vision and Hearing Research
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access - This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Computational biophysics,Retina,General
Publication ISSN: 2045-2322
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 07:37
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2020 11:12
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.natu ... 598-019-56916-8 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-01-10
Accepted Date: 2019-12-18
Authors: Misson, Gary P. (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-8843-8389)
Temple, Shelby E.
Anderson, Stephen J. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-5719-2846)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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