- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
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.
See more ScienceShots.