The Human Eye: an intelligent optical sensor

(The inverted human retina: a diffractive-optical correlator)

Norbert Lauinger

Publisher: IFSA Toronto/Canada

A brief synopsis of the book 

The interpretation of early human vision up today is based on a camera-like optical hardware design in the eye and on a stepwise and hierarchically layered neuronal software processing along the central visual pathway (retina, CGL and V1) and in other cortical visual centers. The hardware in the eye in this interpretation consists of a geometrical-optical lens-pupil system imaging the visible onto a flat CCD-like photoreceptor matrix with monotonously distributed photoreceptors (RGB-cones in daylight and rods in scotopic vision). The 3rd dimension of the visible in monocular vision is lost from the very start on. All structuring and intelligent processing of visual information is attributed to the neuronal software: the figure-ground separation, the spatial frequency filtering, the centering of an object as a whole, the reconstruction of the 3rd dimension, the RGB-chromatic adaptation to illuminants to reach color constancy, the (log-)polar coding for object classification or identification etc.

Contrary to this classical camera-like interpretation of early human vision a revolutionary new insight into the optical visual processing becomes available with the supplementary addition of the micro- and nano-structured diffractive interference-optical hardware in aperture and image space of the human eye and the interpretation of its intelligent functionalities in vision, supported also by the hardware-structure of the central visual pathway between the eye and the cortical visual center V1. In Chapters I – VIII the main interdisciplinary aspects of this new interpretation of the optical hardware are described, showing that the ‘inverted’ human retina has a key-function in an eye’s cortical design and that the grating- and space-grating based diffractive Fresnel-interference optics assume intelligent functions: the spatial frequency filtering, the figure-ground separation and the dealing with the 3rd dimension, the space-grating diffractive-optical RGB-transformation, the processing of chromatic adaptation to illuminants, the centering of an object as a whole, the (log-)polar coding for object classification or identification etc.; the eye through modern micro- and nano-optics is given back a great part of the intelligent functionalities up today exclusively attributed to the neuronal software processing.