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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 43, Iss. 6 — Jun. 1, 1953
  • pp: 495–500

The Disappearance of Steadily Fixated Visual Test Objects


JOSA, Vol. 43, Issue 6, pp. 495-500 (1953)

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A system has been devised for causing an image to remain at one point on the retina regardless of eye movements. A beam of light, reflected from a plane mirror on a contact lens, is used to project onto a screen an image of a dark line against a bright background. The screen is viewed by the same eye through an optical system which compensates for the doubling of the angle of rotation of the beam projected from the mirror on the contact lens. Thus, any motion of the eye causes a deviation of the beam such that the retinal image of the projected line undergoes the same displacement as do the retinal receptor cells. By comparison with normal viewing of the same test objects it is found that (1) when first presented, the finest lines are seen with normal or slightly better than normal acuity, (2) within a few seconds the lines begin to disappear, and (3) within one minute even coarse lines are seen only intermittently. The results may be interpreted in terms of local retinal adaptation to a stationary field.

LORRIN A. RIGGS, FLOYD RATLIFF, JANET C. CORNSWEET, and TOM N. CORNSWEET, "The Disappearance of Steadily Fixated Visual Test Objects," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 43, 495-500 (1953)

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  1. B. O’Brien, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 41, 882–894 (1951).
  2. S. Hecht and E. U. Mintz, J. Gen. Physiol. 22, 593–612 (1938–39).
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  10. Strictly speaking, the measures of acuity for Conditions I and II are not exactly comparable because the images are reflected from different mirrors for the two conditions. Thus, the images may have been slightly different in quality or luminance.
  11. The data from the first three seconds of each one-minute period were discarded because variations in the subjects' reaction time obscured the meaning of those data. The remainder of these six seconds was treated as the first section of the breakdown of the one-minute period.
  12. L. A. Riggs and J. C. Armington, Am. Psychologist 7, 252 (1952).

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