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Tobias Mayer-Experiments on visual acuity (1755)

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

The pioneering experimental work of Tobias Mayer (1723-1762) on visual acuity, published in 1755 in Latin, is presented in English translation. Mayer distinguished between two kinds of visual acuity, the one (30 arc sec) for single objects seen against a uniform background, the other (1 arc min) for more complex objects such as gratings, grids, or checkerboards. Strong illumination did not improve visual acuity. For targets seen in the light of a candle, the visual angle needed for resolution was inversely proportional to the cube root of the distance of the candle and therefore to the sixth root of 'brightness'. The historical significance of Mayer's work on visual acuity is briefly outlined.

Affiliations: 1: Institutfür Kognitionsforschung, Universitit Oldenburg, Postfach 2503, D-2900 Oldenburg, FRG


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