Vision Science

University of California, Berkeley

Overview

Vision is one of the most valuable sensory modalities. It is also the source of a rich array of research questions relating to how we see, how and why vision fails, and what can be done about it. Investigators in Vision Science conduct human and animal research and modeling, yielding cutting-edge discoveries and applications in disciplines that include molecular genetics, clinical care, adaptive optics, neurobiology, cell biology, infectious disease, bioengineering, perception, and public health.

This  PhD program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of vision science research through broad exposure to the basic concepts and techniques used in specialized fields. Engaged in both laboratory-based and clinical research, our students are working with faculty advisers whose research matches their own interests. Current research topics include Biomedical Optics, Perception and Visual Cognition, Molecular and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Computational Vision, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, and Clinical Science.

Vision Science alumni are represented on the faculty of world-class universities — in medical schools, schools of optometry, and a wide range of other disciplines spanning psychology, physiology, bioengineering, and ophthalmology. Many others hold research positions in private institutes and federally sponsored agencies, including NASA and the NIH. Still others are to be found in the research and development divisions of industry; currently, ophthalmic and biotechnology companies are among the major recruiters of our graduates.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, we accept students with various backgrounds including psychology, optometry, engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, biophysics, neuroscience, mathematics, molecular and cell biology, and integrative biology. Because this program is designed to develop research scientists, it is also important that applicants are familiar with an experimental lab setting.

Undergraduate Program

There is no undergraduate program in Vision Science.

Graduate Program

Vision Science: PhD

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Courses

Vision Science

VIS SCI 24 Freshman Seminars 1 Unit

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
The Freshman Seminar Program has been designed to provide new students with the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member in a small-seminar setting. Freshman seminars are offered in all campus departments, and topics vary from department to department and semester to semester. Enrollment limited to 15 freshmen.

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VIS SCI 39 Freshman and Sophomore Seminar 1.5 - 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2016, Fall 2015
Freshman and sophomore seminars offer lower division students the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member and a group of peers in a small seminar setting. These seminars are offered in all campus departments; topics vary from department to department and from semester to semester. Enrollment limits are set by the faculty but the suggested limit is 25.

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VIS SCI 84 Sophomore Seminar 1 or 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016
Sophomore seminars are small interactive courses offered by faculty members in departments all across the campus. Sophomore seminars offer opportunity for close, regular intellectual contact between faculty members and students in the crucial second year. The topics vary from department to department and semester to semester. Enrollment limited to 15 sophomores.

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VIS SCI 199 Supervised Independent Study and Research 1 - 4 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Supervised independent study and research. Enrollment restrictions apply; see the Introduction to Courses and Curricula section of this catalog.

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VIS SCI 201A Seminar in Vision Science 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Graduate seminar in vision science.

Seminar in Vision Science: Read More [+]

VIS SCI 201B Seminar in Vision Science 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Graduate seminar in vision science.

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VIS SCI 203A Geometric Optics 4 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2016, Fall 2015, Fall 2014
Geometrical methods applied to the optics of lenses, mirrors, and prisms. Thin lens eye models, magnification, astigmatism, prism properties of lenses, thick lenses.

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VIS SCI 203B Optical System and Physical Optics 4 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Principles of optical systems, principles and clinical applications of aperatures and stops, aberrations and optical instruments. Optics of the eye. Selected topics in physical optics, diffraction, interference, polarization.

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VIS SCI 205 Visual Perception Sensitivity 4.5 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2016, Fall 2015, Fall 2014
Psychophysical basis for clinical tests in acuity, perimetry, and color vision. The visual stimulus and photometry. Visual receptors. Psychophysical method and visual threshold. Light sensitivity. Contrast sensitivity. Light and dark adaptation. Temporal and spatial properties of visual function. Color vision and abnormalities. Changes with age and disease. Visual illusion. Basis for advanced diagnostic procedures.

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VIS SCI 206A Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
This course focuses on the anatomy and physiology of the eyeball. Overview of the gross anatomy of the eye followed by eye-relevant cellular and molecular biology. Cellular and molecular details of structure and function of each of the various non-neural components.

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VIS SCI 206B Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye and Visual System 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Structure and function of the tissues of the eye, ocular appendages, and the central visual pathways. Basic concepts of physiological, neurological, embryological, and immunological processes as they relate to the eye and vision. Foster an appreciation of the pathophysiology of various disease processes. Convey the importance of anatomy and physiology in the medical approach to ocular disease processes.

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VIS SCI 206C Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye and Visual System 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Problem-based learning approach using clinical case examples. Continuation of 206A-206B.

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VIS SCI 206D Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of the Eye and Visual System 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Structure and function of the neurosensory retina, photoreceptors, RPE including blood supply. Current concepts of etiology and management of major retinal conditions. Overview of diagnostic techniques in retinal imaging, electrophysiologic testing and new genetic approaches. Structure and function of the early visual pathway including retinal ganglion cells, optic nerves, lateral geniculate nucleus and visual cortex.
Pupillary responses. Specialization in the visual cortex.
Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of the Eye and Visual System: Read More [+]

VIS SCI 212A Optics and Dioptrics of the Eye 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Introduction for graduate students to basic principles of classic and modern geometric optics (thick lens systems, mirrors, prisms, apertures, and stops) and physical optics (interference, diffraction, and polarization) with emphasis on dioptrics of the human eye (including schematic eyes, aberrations, and entoptic phenomena).

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VIS SCI 212B Visual Neurophysiology and Development 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2016, Fall 2015
Introduction for graduate students. Visual pathways will be considered from retina to lateral geniculate to visual cortex. Basic organization at each stage will be covered. Primary focus will be studies of receptive field characteristics and associated visual function. Development and plasticity of the same visual pathways will also be covered. Evidence and implications will be explored from controlled rearing procedures
and studies of abnormal visual exposure.
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VIS SCI 212D Anatomy and Vegetative Physiology of the Eye 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Introduction for graduate students to a general survey of the orbit, anterior and posterior segment of the eye, extraocular muscles, and neuroanatomy of the eye. Vegetative physiology of the cornea and tear film, aqueous humor, crystalline lens, vitreous humor, epithelial tissue (iris, ciliary body and retina), and photochemistry.

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VIS SCI 212E Color Vision and Visual Sensitivity 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Introduction for graduate students to sensory aspects of light and color vision including: psychophysical methods, spectral response of the eye, mechanisms of sensitivity control, dark adaptation, color discrimination, mechanisms of normal and defective color vision.

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VIS SCI 212F Spatial and Binocular Vision, Eye Movements, and Motion Perception 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Introduction for graduate students to human spatial vision including contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, and spatial localization. Introduction to eye movements, motion perception, and motor and sensory aspects of binocular vision including pursuit, vergence, and saccadic eye movements, accommodation, stereopsis, and binocular space perception. Perception of real and apparent motion.

Spatial and Binocular Vision, Eye Movements, and Motion Perception: Read More [+]

VIS SCI 212G Molecular Genetics of Vertebrate Eye Development and Diseases 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
The primary focus of this course is to teach the molecular basis of vertebrate eye development and related disease. This course will cover some of the basic principles of molecular and cell biology, commonly used techniques and experimental approaches, as well as the biological mechanisms for vertebrate eye development and related eye diseases. Recent progress in identifying important ocular genes and the approaches
used to identify them will be discussed.
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VIS SCI 215 Visual System Development 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2015, Fall 2014, Fall 2013
Development of the eye and visual system. Normal development of the eye, retina, and central visual pathways. Effects of visual deprivation. Assessment of optical and visual function in human infants. Refraction and refractive error in infants and children. Development of visuomotor function, spatial vision, color vision, binocular vision, and depth perception.

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VIS SCI 217 Oculomotor Functions and Neurology 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Neuro-anatomical pathways for the control of eye position and movement; gaze holding, image stabilization and tracking eye movement systems; oculomotor signs of disorders of the central nervous system (palsies, nystagmus, opthalmoplegia, cog-wheel pursuits, saccadic dysmetria); the near visual-motor response and the synergistic coupling of accommodation and convergence; binocular misalignment (heterophoria
and fixation disparity); and presbyopia.
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VIS SCI 219 Binocular Vision and Space Perception 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
Perception of space, direction, and distance. Binocular retinal correspondence, horopters, differential magnification effects and anomalies of binocular vision development. Sensory vision, local stereopsis, static and dynamic stereopsis, binocular depth cues.

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VIS SCI 230 Ethics in Scientific Research 2 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2014
This seminar will examine a range of ethical issues that arise in the process of doing science. Beginning with the philosophical and social foundations, we will consider the pathogenesis of fraud, statistics and deception, the ethics of authorship and publication, research with human subjects, the use of animals, the definition(s) of misconduct and the difference between misconduct and questionable research
practices, the relationship between industry and science, and finally, the responsibilities and obligations of the scientist in society.
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VIS SCI 260A Optical and Neural Limits to Vision 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Not yet offered
The course will provide an overview of the early stage limits to human vision, from the eye’s optics to sampling and processing in the retina. Students will learn basic optical properties of the eye as well as objective and subjective techniques on how to measure limits of human vision. The class will comprise a combination of lectures and active learning by the students in the form of a project, to be presented at the end of the
semester. This is one of the four courses that form the Vision Science core curriculum.
Optical and Neural Limits to Vision: Read More [+]

VIS SCI 260B Introduction to Ocular Biology 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Not yet offered
The course will provide an overview of eye development, anterior eye ocular anatomy and physiology and ocular disease. The course will be a combination of didactic lectures and problem-based learning. This is one of the four courses that form the Vision Science core curriculum.

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VIS SCI 260C Introduction to Visual Neuroscience 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Not yet offered
The course will provide an overview of the neuroscience of vision, spanning the entire neural pathway from retinal neurobiology to cortical processing of visual signals. The class will comprise a combination of lectures and active learning by the students in the form of a project, to be presented at the end of the semester. This is one of the four courses that form the Vision Science core curriculum.

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VIS SCI 260D Seeing in Time, Space and Color 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Not yet offered
The course will provide an overview of how we see in time (temporal signal processing, eye motion, motion detection), space (stereo vision, depth perception), and color as well as the anatomical and physiological factors that facilitate these capabilities. The course will be series of didactic lectures. This is one of the four courses that form the Vision Science core curriculum

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VIS SCI 262 Visual Cognitive Neuroscience 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2016, Spring 2015, Spring 2013
The course will provide an overview of visual cognitive neuroscience, drawing from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology in humans and animal models, psychophysics, neuroimaging, neuropharmacology, neuropsychology, and computational models of vision and cognition. Topics will include basic anatomy and physiology of the mammalian visual system, motion perception and processing, depth perception and representation of
visual space, brightness and color, object and face recognition, visual attention, developmental and adult plasticity, perceptual learning, multisensory integration, and visual awareness.
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VIS SCI 265 Neural Computation 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2016, Fall 2015, Fall 2014
This course provides an introduction to the theory of neural computation. The goal is to familiarize students with the major theoretical frameworks and models used in neuroscience and psychology, and to provide hands-on experience in using these models. Topics include neural network models, supervised and unsupervised learning rules, associative memory models, probabilistic/graphical models, and models of neural
coding in the brain.
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VIS SCI C265 Neural Computation 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Prior to 2007
This course provides an introduction to the theory of neural computation. The goal is to familiarize students with the major theoretical frameworks and models used in neuroscience and psychology, and to provide hands-on experience in using these models. Topics include neural network models, supervised and unsupervised learning rules, associative memory models, probabilistic/graphical models, and models of neural coding in the brain.

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VIS SCI C280 Computer Vision 3 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Paradigms for computational vision. Relation to human visual perception. Mathematical techniques for representing and reasoning, with curves, surfaces and volumes. Illumination and reflectance models. Color perception. Image segmentation and aggregation. Methods for bottom-up three dimensional shape recovery: Line drawing analysis, stereo, shading, motion, texture. Use of object models for prediction and recognition.

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VIS SCI 298 Group Studies, Seminars, or Group Research 1 - 6 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Group studies of selected topics. Advanced studies in various subjects through special seminars on topics to be selected each year, informal groups studying special problems, group participation in experimental problems and analysis.

Group Studies, Seminars, or Group Research: Read More [+]

VIS SCI 299 Research in Vision Science 1 - 12 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Summer 2017 Second 6 Week Session, Spring 2017
Research.

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VIS SCI 300 Teaching Methods in Vision Science 1 Unit

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Instruction in teaching methods and materials, in vision science and optometry; practice teaching in classrooms and laboratory.

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VIS SCI 601 Individual Study for Master's Students 1 - 6 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Individual study for the comprehensive requirements in consultation with the adviser in vision science.

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VIS SCI 602 Individual Study for Doctoral Students 1 - 6 Units

Offered through: Optometry
Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Individual study in consultation with the adviser in vision science, intended to provide an opportunity for qualified students to prepare themselves for the various examinations required for the Ph. D.

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Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Anthony J. Adams, Professor. Vision in diabetes, retinal function.
Research Profile

Ian L. Bailey, Professor. Low vision, visual ergonomics, clinical optics, optometry.
Research Profile

Martin S. Banks, Professor. Stereopsis, virtual reality, optometry, multisensory interactions, self-motion perception, vision, depth perception, displays, picture perception, visual ergonomics.
Research Profile

Lisa F. Barcellos, Associate Professor. Public health, genetic epidemiology, human genetics, autoimmune diseases, multiple schlerosis, lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, epigenetics, genomics, computational biology.
Research Profile

Brian A. Barsky, Professor. Computer science, geometric design and modeling, computer graphics, computer aided cornea modeling and visualization, medical imaging, virtual environments for surgical simulation.
Research Profile

Sonia Bishop, Assistant Professor.

Susana Chung, Professor. Optometry, low vision, vision science, pattern vision, reading.
Research Profile

Yang Dan, Professor. Neuronal circuits, mammalian visual system, electrophysiological, psychophysical and computational techniques, visual cortical circuits, visual neurons.
Research Profile

Ralph D. Freeman, Professor. Vision science, organization of central visual pathways.
Research Profile

Jack L. Gallant, Professor. Vision science, form vision, attention, fMRI, computational neuroscience, natural scene perception, brain encoding, brain decoding.
Research Profile

Xiaohua Gong, Professor. Optometry, vision science, eye development and diseases, lens development.
Research Profile

Karsten Gronert, Associate Professor. Inflammatory diseases, innate immune responses, lipid mediators, lipidomics, leukocytes, inflammatory resolution, eicosanoids, fish oils, omega-3 PUFA, Dry Eye, Keratitis, wound healing, lipxoygenase, cycloooxygenase, resolution pharmacology.
Research Profile

Stanley A. Klein, Professor. Optometry, vision science, spatial vision modeling, psychophysical methods and vision test design, corneal topography and contact lens design, source localization of evoked potentials, fMRI, amblyopia.
Research Profile

James O'Brien, Professor. Computer graphics, fluid dynamics, computer simulation, physically based animation, finite element simulation, human perception, image forensics, video forensics, computer animation, special effects for film, video game technology, motion capture.
Research Profile

Bruno Olshausen, Professor. Visual perception, computational neuroscience, computational vision.
Research Profile

Kenneth A. Polse, Professor. Optometry, vision science, tear mixing, epithelial barrier function, contact lens extended wear.
Research Profile

Austin John Roorda, Professor. Adaptive optics, eye, vision, ophthalmoscopy, scanning laser ophthalmoscope, ophthalmology.
Research Profile

Clifton M. Schor, Professor. Stereopsis, optometry, vision science, binocular vision, ocular motility, strabismus, accommodation, presbyopia.
Research Profile

Michael Silver, Associate Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, pharmacology, learning, attention, visual perception, neuroimaging.
Research Profile

David Whitney, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, cognition, attention, visual perception, vision, visually guided action.
Research Profile

Christine Wildsoet, Professor. Optometry, vision science, myopia, refractive errors, accommodation, aberrations, eye growth, ocular therapeutics, optical myopia control, pharmacological myopia control, ocular tissue engineering, ocular stem cells.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Robert B. Mandell, Professor Emeritus. Contact lenses, structure, growth, and physiology of the cornea.
Research Profile

Lynn C. Robertson, Professor Emeritus. Cognitive neuroscience, attention, psychology, representations of objects and space, visual search, binding mechanisms, perceptual organization in normal and neurological populations, functional hemisphere asymmetries, spatial deficits.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Group in Vision Science

Visit Group Website

Director of Student Services

Olga Lepilina

380 Minor Hall

Phone: 510-642-9804

vision@berkeley.edu

Program Chair

Karsten Gronet, PhD

594 Minor Hall

Phone: 510-642-1076

kgronert@berkeley.edu

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