University of Rochester

Peter Lennie

Research Overview

My work sits at the interface between visual perception and visual physiology. All my research is connected by the idea that visual perception can be explained in terms of underlying neural mechanisms. The work involves both perceptual experiments to explore performance, and physiological ones to record the activity of single neurons, the aim being, where possible, to link observations in the two domains. My recent work has focused on two broad problems: how the visual selectivities of neurons become elaborated at successive levels in the visual pathway, and how signals about color are encoded by visual neurons.

Elaboration of Visual Selectivity. Neurons in primary visual cortex are distinctively selective for the properties of visual stimuli. Many of these properties have been thought to arise within cortex, because at earlier stages of the visual pathway, in retina and in lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), neurons generally have much simpler properties. Our recent work shows that the early mechanisms contribute hitherto unsuspected richness to the behavior of cortical neurons.

Encoding of Color. Color vision is better understood perceptually than it is physiologically. My collaborators and I have been working recently on two problems: which neurons are important for conveying signals about color? How do they select inputs from the three types (L, M, and S) of cone photoreceptors?

Selected Publications