Yuri Ostrovsky, PhD
Post-doctoral researcher in Vision and Computational Neuroscience
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Lab: Sinha Lab
Email: yostr [at] mit.edu
The adult human visual system effortlessly parses scenes streaming into the eyes into robust representations of the 3D world. It has almost become cliché to point out that vision feels so natural that we forget (or don't even notice) how complex the operation actually is. But once you try to program a computer to do what seems so effortless to us, it becomes rapidly clear that vision is indeed an extremely hard problem which only begins, not ends, at the eye.
My first few years of graduate school were spent trying to figure out how the brain implements the visual sense. Somewhat later, however, observations during experiments conducted within Project Prakash prompted me to take a temporary step back. In working with children and adults who gained eyesight for the first time at a relatively late age (5, 10 or even 29 years old), it struck me how different their parsing of the visual world was compared to individuals with normal visual experience. What was especially striking was how, given time, their visual abilities changed with experience. This was more than simple acuity changes -- acuity was actually quite decent almost immediately after sight restoration. These patients actually started to reinterpret how they viewed the world, parsing objects in profoundly different ways. This has led me to look at not only how the brain "computes" vision, but also how it learns to compute vision.