Sunday, September 19, 2010

Article – 1: Perception & Hypervision

In chapter three the complex nature of visual perception is discussed. Here we learn how the eye picks up reflected light from objects in the environment which enters the eye through the pupil and is focused by the cornea and lens to form sharp images of objects onto the retina, which contain rods and cones; these visual receptors contain light-sensitive pigments that react to light and trigger electrical signals which pass through a network of neurons before finally emerging from the back of the eye in the optic nerve where signals are finally sent toward the brain. This process takes place from the very moment we open our eyes and the majority of people are completely unaware of the internal goings on that take place second by second, however, there are some individuals who are highly aware…so much so that looking on to external stimuli can literally be a painful experience.

Olga Bogdashina, a researcher with particular interest in sensory-perceptual and communication problems has studied this phenomena in children suffering with Autism and has found that some with the condition claim that often they do not use their direct/central perception because “it hurts;” they describe eye contact as uncomfortable, overwhelming and even painful, which only makes them feel more nervous, tense, and scared. These unpleasant feelings when looking upon people or objects in their environment stem from what is known as Hypervision which is defined as highly acute vision, and can be described as “noticing the tiniest pieces of fluff on a carpet, having a aversive reaction to bright light, or feeling as if they were touched when being simply looked upon directly.”

This issue of non-use of direct/central perception was of particular interest to me because I wonder if the problem actually stems from a malfunctioning of cone receptors in the fovea which is the area that processes direct stimuli or are both rods and cones within the eye of an autistic child compromised. There were no studies mentioned by Bogdashina to shed light on this question, which leaves me to believe more research should be conducted in this area of study. Perhaps in doing so, educators and parents alike could find more constructive ways of communicating and interacting with autistic individuals in the future.

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