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Prof. Hannah Smithson

Top panel: a glossy sphere rendered under a lighting transition from skylight to sunlight; Middle panel: a knitted blanket representing the ratios of L-, M- and S-cones found in the human retina, produced in 2017 by members of the lab; Bottom panel: an AOSLO image of human cones across a 3-degree strip of retina. 


In the Oxford Perception Lab, we study the neural mechanisms that underlie sensation and perception. Using high-resolution imaging of cone photoreceptors in the living human eye we explore the fundamentals of vision, in health and disease. Using real and computer-rendered stimuli we test human abilities to sense and to respond to the material properties of objects. 

How are the signals from the three classes of cone photoreceptors processed to give rise to our perceptions of colour? What are the neural circuits of comparison and combination that permit the efficient transmission of visual information from retina to cortex?

We specialize in psychophysical experiments with adult observers, but collaborate with physiologists, computer scientists, physicists and engineers to inform and constrain our analysis of behavioural data.

Members of the group work on three overlapping projects: (i) high-resolution in vivo imaging of human retina, (ii) perception of material properties, such as colour, gloss and translucence, and (iii) modern analyses of observations from medieval science.

To find out more, follow the links below.



Our team

Selected publications

Related research themes