People / Faculty

Peter H. Schiller

Peter H. Schiller, Ph.D.
Dorothy W. Poitras Professor in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Building: 46-6041
Lab: Schiller Lab
Email: phschill@mit.edu

Visual and Oculomotor Systems

Research in the Schiller laboratory is concerned with the functions of the mammalian visual and oculomotor systems. The work is carried out in both humans and monkeys and involves behavioral studies, fMRI imaging procedures, single-cell recordings, microstimulation, and pharmacological manipulations.

The Neural Control of Vision:

The central focus of this work is to determine how visual information is processed in the brain. Using behavioral methods, brain imaging and single-cell recordings, we assess what the relative contributions are of various brain areas in the processing of color, brightness, motion, depth, texture and shape. A portion of this work examines how various brain regions involved in vision interact by relying on feed-back circuits from higher to lower areas, such as from areas V2 to V1. In our recent work we are also examining the feasibility of creating a prosthetic device for the blind based on electrical microstimulation of primary visual cortex.

The Neural Control of Visually Guided Eye movements:

Our ability to process visual information relies critically on eye movements. The retina is highly specialized as it has only a small region, the fovea, which can provide high-acuity vision by virtue of a high density of photoreceptors. Therefore, to be able to see fine detail in the visual scene, we need to repeatedly shift our gaze with saccadic eye movements. When objects move about, such as a bird flying in the sky, we need to keep tracking it for fine-detail analysis; this is accomplished by smooth pursuit eye movements. Numerous brain areas contribute to our ability to make these saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements. We study these areas in monkeys with single-cell recordings, microstimulation, and the infusion of pharmacological agents to assess the nature of the excitatory and inhibitory circuits involved. The areas we study include the superior colliculus, the visual cortex, the frontal eye fields and the medial eye fields.


Schiller PH, Kendall GL, Slocum WM, Tehovnik EJ. Conditions that alter
saccadic eye movement latencies and affect target choice to visual stimuli and to electrical stimulation of area V1 in the monkey. Vis Neurosci. 2008
Sep-Dec;25(5-6):661-73. Epub 2008 Dec 12.

Schiller PH, Tehovnik EJ. Visual prosthesis. Perception. 2008;37(10):1529-59.

Zhang Y, Schiller PH. The effect of overall stimulus velocity on motion
parallax. Vis Neurosci. 2008 Jan-Feb;25(1):3-15.

Schiller PH, Slocum WM, Weiner VS. How the parallel channels of the retina
contribute to depth processing. Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Sep;26(5):1307-21


Additional Publications