PSYC Seminar: “How does the brain make sense of the visual world? From typical sight to visual impairment”, Zahide Pamir, 12:30Noon November 17 (EN)

Please join Bilkent University’s Psychology Department on Thursday for the virtual visit of Zahide Pamir

Speaker: Dr.Zahide Pamir

How does the brain make sense of the visual world?
From typical sight to visual impairment

Date: Thursday, 17 November 2022
Time: 12:30

***This is an online seminar. To request the event link, please send a message to department.

Abstract: Visual perception is the result of active and elaborate visual information processing which implicates approximately half of the brain’s cortical surface. In this talk, I will focus on two important characteristics that make visual information processing remarkably complex. First, the visual system is optimized to interpret object and scene properties that are critical for the survival rather than the physical properties of an image itself. This suggests that visual perception is greatly context dependent. I will demonstrate how this affects visual information processing in neurotypical development by presenting the effect of context-dependent lightness on contrast perception. Second, the brain is not hard-wired from the birth. It has an enormous ability to change its structural and functional organization in response to development, experience, the environment, or damage throughout the lifespan, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. This means that the mechanisms underlying visual information processing are also dynamic and ever-changing. I will shed light on to brain’s adaptability in the setting of an early brain injury by focusing on altered visual information processing in cerebral visual impairment (CVI); the leading cause of pediatric visual impairment in developed countries. Children with CVI show deficits associated with higher order visuospatial processing that are highly context dependent such as having difficulties in recognizing a familiar person in a crowd and following moving traffic. To demonstrate the structural and functional changes that occur in CVI, I will present results related to global motion processing and visual search abilities from a combined behavioral and multi-modal neuroimaging approach. Results show that there is a complex response profile in higher level visual information processing areas in CVI, reflecting the brain’s adaptability to early neurological injury. This may provide clues relating to the extent of brain’s ability to change, developmental constraints of the human visual system as well as hope for rehabilitation in the setting of visual impairment.

Bio: Zahide Pamir received her BA degree in Psychology from Bilkent University and her MS degree in Cognitive Science from the Middle East Technical University. She completed her doctorate studies in Neuroscience at Bilkent University. Her graduate studies focused on the effect of context on the processing of low-level visual features. Zahide recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School. Her research focused on understanding the functional and behavioral correlations of cortical visual impairment. Before joining the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity, she completed another postdoctoral fellowship in the Vision Rehabilitation Laboratory at the same institute. Dr. Pamir recently received a prestigious fellowship from TUBİTAK to return to Turkey. With this grant, she is going to investigate the behavioral and functional correlates of topographic reorganization in the primary visual cortex.