Researchers from the University of Glasgow and University of York have found visual acuity can be enhanced by exposure to a common visual illusion, allowing viewers to read letters that are too small for them to read normally.
In two related experiments, the researchers reportedly presented 74 observers with a spiral pattern that rotated either clockwise or counterclockwise for 30 seconds followed by a set of letters, which participants were asked to identify. The font size of the letters reportedly became increasingly smaller over subsequent trials.
The research team discovered the participants' visual acuity differed depending on which spiral they saw. Participants who started with normal visual acuity and saw clockwise spirals were reportedly able to identify letters at smaller font sizes after exposure to the clockwise spiral. And participants who saw counterclockwise spirals actually performed worse after exposure to the spirals.
Researchers believe their findings show visual acuity is not just governed by the eye's optics, but can also be shaped by perceptual processes in the brain.
The study was recently published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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Source: Association for Psychological Science