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Dressmakers Found to Have Needle-Sharp 3D Vision

Summary: According to researchers, dressmakers are the most eagle eyed.

Source: UC Berkeley.

Haute couture can be credited for enhancing more than catwalks and red carpets. New research from UC Berkeley suggests that the 3D or “stereoscopic” vision of dressmakers is as sharp as their needles.

Stereoscopic vision is the brain’s ability to decode the flat 2D optical information received by both eyes to give us the depth of perception needed to thread a needle, catch a ball, park a car and generally navigate a 3D world.

Using computerized perceptual tasks, researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, tested the stereoscopic vision of dressmakers and other professionals, and found dressmakers to be the most eagle-eyed.

The results, published in the June 13 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, show dressmakers to be 80 percent more accurate than non-dressmakers at calculating the distance between themselves and the objects they were looking at, and 43 percent better at estimating the distance between objects.

“We found dressmakers have superior stereovision, perhaps because of the direct feedback involved with fine needlework,” said study lead author Adrien Chopin, a postdoctoral researcher in visual neuroscience at UC Berkeley.

What researchers are still determining is whether dressmaking sharpens stereoscopic vision, or whether dressmakers are drawn to the trade because of their visual stereo-acuity, Chopin said.

To experience what it means to have stereoscopic vision, focus on a visual target. Now blink one eye while still staring at your target. Then blink the other eye. The background should appear to shift position. With stereoscopic vision, the brain’s visual cortex merges the 2D viewpoints of each eye into one 3D image.

It has generally been assumed that surgeons, dentists and other medical professionals who perform precise manual procedures would have superior stereovision. But previous studies have shown this not to be the case.

That spurred Chopin to investigate which professions would produce or attract people with superior stereovision, and led him to dressmakers.

Image shows possibly Kate Winslet making a dress.

What researchers are still determining is whether dressmaking sharpens stereoscopic vision, or whether dressmakers are drawn to the trade because of their visual stereo-acuity. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from UC Berkeley news release.

A better understanding of dressmakers’ stereoscopic superpowers will inform ongoing efforts to train people with visual impairments such as amblyopia or “lazy eye” to strengthen their stereoscopic vision, Chopin said.

In addition to helping people with sight disorders, improved stereoscopic vision may be key to the success of military fighters, athletes and other occupations that require keen hand-eye coordination. An estimated 10 percent of people suffer from some form of stereoscopic impairment, and 5 percent suffer from full stereo blindness, Chopin said.

For example, the 17th-century Dutch painter Rembrandt, whose self-portraits occasionally showed him with one lazy eye, is thought to have suffered from stereo blindness, rendering him with flat vision. Some vision scientists have posited that painters tend to have poorer stereovision, which gives them an advantage working in 2D.

For the study, participants viewed objects on a computer screen through a stereoscope and judged the distances between objects, and between themselves and the objects. Researchers recorded their visual precision and found that, overall, dressmakers performed markedly better than their non-dressmaker counterparts in visual acuity.

About this neuroscience research article

In addition to Chopin, co-authors of the study are Dennis Levi of UC Berkeley and Daphné Bavelier of the University of Geneva.

Source: Yasmin Anwar – UC Berkeley
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from UC Berkeley news release.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Dressmakers show enhanced stereoscopic vision” by Adrien Chopin, Dennis M. Levi & Daphné Bavelier in Scientific Reports. Published online June 13 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03425-1

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
UC Berkeley “Dressmakers Found to Have Needle-Sharp 3D Vision.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 14 June 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/dressmaker-vision-6910/>.
UC Berkeley (2017, June 14). Dressmakers Found to Have Needle-Sharp 3D Vision. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved June 14, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/dressmaker-vision-6910/
UC Berkeley “Dressmakers Found to Have Needle-Sharp 3D Vision.” http://neurosciencenews.com/dressmaker-vision-6910/ (accessed June 14, 2017).

Abstract

Dressmakers show enhanced stereoscopic vision

The ability to estimate the distance of objects from one’s self and from each other is fundamental to a variety of behaviours from grasping objects to navigating. The main cue to distance, stereopsis, relies on the slight offsets between the images derived from our left and right eyes, also termed disparities. Here we ask whether the precision of stereopsis varies with professional experience with precise manual tasks. We measured stereo-acuities of dressmakers and non-dressmakers for both absolute and relative disparities. We used a stereoscope and a computerized test removing monocular cues. We also measured vergence noise and bias using the Nonius line technique. We demonstrate that dressmakers’ stereoscopic acuities are better than those of non-dressmakers, for both absolute and relative disparities. In contrast, vergence noise and bias were comparable in the two groups. Two non-exclusive mechanisms may be at the source of the group difference we document: (i) self-selection or the fact that stereo-vision is functionally important to become a dressmaker, and (ii) plasticity, or the fact that training on demanding stereovision tasks improves stereo-acuity.

“Dressmakers show enhanced stereoscopic vision” by Adrien Chopin, Dennis M. Levi & Daphné Bavelier in Scientific Reports. Published online June 13 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03425-1

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