Eye’s motion detection sensors identified

Studying mice, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a neural circuit in the retina that carries signals enabling the eye to detect movement. The finding could help in efforts to build artificial retinas for people who have suffered vision loss.

Chemist receives funding to unravel tricks of neuronal wiring

Joshua Maurer, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a four-year, $1,216,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for research titled, “Unraveling Development: New Materials for Understanding Neuronal Wiring.” Maurer’s long term objective is to develop methodology that allows the study of a variety of neuronal wiring processes. He is starting by unscrambling a phenomenon known as midline crossing using zebrafish. During development, neurons from the right eye cross the midline of the brain to make a connection in the left hemisphere.

Keeping hands where you can see ’em alters perception, study finds

Image courtesy of Richard AbramsTo see objects better, take matters into your own hands.WUSTL psychologists have shown that to see objects better, you should take the matter into your own hands. Humans are compelled to closely analyze objects near our hands, they suggest, because we have a non-conscious, almost reflexive need to figure out how to handle nearby items or to provide protection against them. Recognizing that the location of your hands influences what you see is a new insight into the wiring of the brain, one that may even offer scientific support for California’s new ban on driving with hand-held cell phones.

Proper UV protection for your eyes is important for summer

Photo courtesy of WUSTLIt’s very important to get sunglasses with UV protection and to wear them at an early age.We all know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but what about protection for our eyes? July is UV Safety Month and prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays without protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are your best protection against UV-related vision problems, but be careful when you’re shopping for sunglasses — the wrong kind of lenses might do more harm than good.

From drug labels to Web sites, visual designers should keep older population in mind

Photo courtesy of National Eye Institute, National Institutes of HealthVisual perception changes as eyes age.Graphic design can be a matter of life and death. Literally. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and over use five or more different medications each week, making unintended drug interactions a major contributor to an estimated annual 180,000 fatal or life-threatening adverse drug reactions. Yet drug labeling is a kind of typographical Wild West, says Ken Botnick, professor of visual communications in the School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis. “Drug companies are required to divulge certain types of information but there are no requirements in terms of how accessible that information is made,” Botnick explains. “Typically, decisions about the way information is organized — the hierarchy of presentation, the size and clarity of type — are simply afterthoughts.” Medical information design is just one of the issues to be explored as part of “Visual Design for an Aging Population,” a national symposium Botnick is organizing in March 2004.