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The New Visual Neurosciences, John S. Werner and Leo M. Chalupa, eds.

Rabin, Jeff C.

Author Information
Optometry and Vision Science: November 2015 - Volume 92 - Issue 11 - p e420
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000743
  • Free
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2014. $265.00.

In 2003, Drs. Werner and Chalupa published a groundbreaking two-volume text, The Visual Neurosciences, which included more than 100 chapters by international leaders in the field summarizing multiple facets of visual neuroscience. Importantly, this highly readable text targeted nonexperts and graduate students, quickly becoming a mainstay for visual neuroscience. Rapid and prolific advancements in the last decade mandated The New Visual Neurosciences, which summarizes a 10-year explosion of knowledge, insight, and potential treatments for eye disease, with updates and new contributions from leaders in the field. The editors stress that concepts from the first edition are “only partially repeated” in The New Visual Neurosciences and recommend reference to the first edition as needed.

The New Visual Neurosciences progresses from retinal to cortical processing in 32 chapters covering hierarchical, parallel, and subcortical pathways. New topics include feature detection, gap junctions, intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cells, correlated activity, postreceptoral adaptation, inhibitory and local circuits, feedback mechanisms for top-down perception, and retinal and cortical networks mapped with connectomics. Nearly 30 chapters are devoted to visual perception of brightness, color, form, motion, and depth perception. Chapters from the first edition are updated with functional imaging and descriptions of cranial stimulation. New topics include scene, face and time perception, as well as links between low-level pattern vision and scene recognition. Ten chapters cover all aspects of eye movements including their role in natural behavior, mechanics, and neural circuitry and treatment of motility disorders. A 10-chapter section on attention, cognition, and integration of vision with other sensory modalities is highlighted by new measures of wakeful brain activity during complex tasks. A new section on invertebrate vision pits neural simplicity against unique capability, including polarized light for navigation and color vision with more than 12 photopigments. Evolution of primate vision, computational bases for veridical scene perception, and renewed importance of neural oscillations comprise an intriguing section on theoretical perspectives. Visual development is elucidated in 11 updated and new chapters predicated on mouse models of activity-dependent plasticity and new molecules and pathways critical to optic nerve regeneration. The text concludes with Translational Visual Neuroscience composed of 12 invaluable chapters dedicated to mechanisms, prevention, and treatment of major eye diseases.

With 112 chapters and more than 1650 pages, The New Visual Neurosciences is an unsurpassed essential compendium of knowledge for optometry, ophthalmology, vision science, and neuroscience. The editors and contributing authors are congratulated for a timely, highly readable, and beautifully illustrated work predicated on basic science and dedicated to the preservation and restoration of vision.

Jeff C. Rabin

San Antonio, TX

© 2015 American Academy of Optometry