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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Brightness Is in the Eye of the Beholder
23 January 2012 3:00 pm
Stare into a camera's flash or walk into the sunlight after watching a movie, and your pupils will contract. But will the same thing happen if you just look at an image of a bright object? Yes, according to a new study, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers asked volunteers to stare at a series of visual illusions of brightness—including teardrop shapes arranged in a circle so that the center looked brighter than the outside (left, above. Image on right is the control) and then measured what happened to the subjects' pupils. The team found that the brighter an object appeared to be, the more the pupils contracted. After the initial contraction, the pupils gradually dilated to reflect the actual amount of light reaching the eye. The results add to previous research that has shown that our pupils dilate when we look at something that fascinates or intrigues us, suggesting that the so-called pupillary light reflex isn't merely an automatic response (like jerking your hand back from a hot stove). Instead, inputs from higher brain functions, like those responsible for interpreting what we see, also play a role.
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