BCSC 223: Vision & the Eye

Cross-listed: Optics 248/448
Prerequisites: OPT 241 Geometrical Optics and OPT 261 Interference and Diffraction. Advanced undergraduates interested in the course who are not Optics majors, such as BCS or BME majors may be able to waive these prerequisites and are encouraged to discuss this with the instructor.
Offered: Spring

The human visual system is the most sophisticated imaging system known. This course will reveal the intricate optical and neural machinery inside the eye that allows us to see. It will describe the physical and biological processes that set the limits on our perception of patterns of light that vary in luminance and color across space and time, We will compare the human eye with the acute eyes of predatory birds and the compound eyes of insects. The course will also describe exciting new optical technologies for correcting vision and for imaging the inside of the eye with unprecedented resolution, and how these technologies can help us understand and even cure diseases of the eye. The class is intended to be accessible to advanced undergraduate students, especially those majoring in Optics, Biomedical Engineering, or Brain and Cognitive Science, but is recommended for anyone with a curiosity about vision or an interest in biomedical applications of optics. The course will also serve as an introduction to the study of vision for graduate students.

The format of the course will include lectures, with hands-on laboratory exercises interspersed throughout the semester. There will be two midterm exams and a final exam. Students will be expected to conduct an independent project during the semester culminating in a written report at the end of the semester. The reading material for the class will consist of book chapters, review articles, and papers from the primary scientific literature. Each student will be expected to conduct an oral presentation describing the methods and conclusions of at least one paper from the primary literature.