Suggested books

Vision is the most complex of the senses in primates, occupying the biggest part of the neocortex. Studying about Vision can be quite tricky. There is so much information, so many books and papers in this field, that if you don't have a mentor to safely guide you around it, you can easily get "lost". Deciding which books to read and which not to, is vital in order not to fall behind your studding schedule. Here is a list of the most important books I have come up with, while studying about vision during my PhD.

This list is now outdated. I am very sure new better books must have been published since the last time this list has been updated... Nevertheless, this list can be a starting point to those who would like to get an idea of how biological vision works.

A Vision of the Brain

by Semir Zeki

A great book by a great scientist. This is the perfect book for the beginner, who has never read anything about vision or the brain. Unfortunately it is not published any more, so you can only find it libraries or used.

The First Steps in Seeing

by Robert W. Rodieck

A very good book describing Vision in its first steps (mainly the Retina) and NOT the visual cortex. It is by far the best illustrated book, making it easy for the beginner to grasp complicated information about Vision.

The Visual Neurosciences (2 Volumes)

by Leo M. Chalupa (Editor), John S. Werner (Editor)

This two volume set is the Bible of Visual Neuroscience. It contains the current knowledge in many research fields of Vision. Its chapters are small review papers from experienced scientists, which can be a great help for a quick literature review.

Why We See What We Do Redux: A Wholly Empirical Theory of Vision

by Dale Purves and R. Beau Lotto

A different book about Vision. It describes an alternative theory about the origins of Vision, based on an entirely empirical point of view. It is more appropriate for someone who already knows the basic things about the Human Visual System, and wants to know why things are the way they are in Vision. Its beautiful illustrations make the main idea of the authors more comprehensible to the reader.

The Art and Science of HDR Imaging

by John J. McCann and Alessandro Rizzi

This is a very interesting book, approaching a "hot" topic in contemporary digital imaging, from a different, biologically-plausible direction. It attempts to shed light on the way the HVS tackles HDR imaging conditions by three major means: First, it reviews psychophysical data regarding the perception of appearance by observers, color constancy, veiling glare, as well as other psychophysical characteristics. Second, it extensively describes HDR image processing, including the whole Retinex family of algorithms (it is the only existing manuscript that does that), as well as other techniques which model the way the HVS performs spatial processing. Third, it points out the limits of HDR both in biological and artificial visual systems.

Visual Perception: A Clinical Orientation, Fourth Edition

by Steven Schwartz

This is a very well written and illustrated book, which is very good for the beginner. It describes all the stages of the visual system with clarity, spanning from the very basic terms to the higher visual processes. The unique thing about this book is that it also describes the clinical dimension of the study of vision: It mentions all the experiments which are used in order to identify the characteristics of visual perception. Additionally, at the end of each chapter there are "self-assessment questions" which help the reader to identify his/hers degree of understanding.

The Visual Perception: The Neurophysiological Foundations

by Lothar Spillmann (Author), John S. Werner (Editor)

Although a little bit old, this book is one of my favorites. It describes with great detail many aspects of biological vision. Every chapter is a long review paper, helping the reader to build a strong knowledge of the literature (although not up to date). The chapter dealing with Brightness perception is excellent. Unfortunately, this book is not published any more.

Color Vision: From Genes to Perception

by Karl R. Gegenfurtner (Editor), Lindsay T. Sharpe (Editor), B. B. Boycott (Foreword)

If you are looking for one book about biological color vision, then THIS is the one. It covers many aspects of biological color vision in chapters with the form of review papers. Thus, it is excellent for an in-depth literature review. The only thing that is not covered, are the spatial models of color perception, such as Retinex.

Color Constancy

by Marc Ebner

This is the ONLY book so far covering this topic. This means that it can be the "best and the worst" at the same time in color constancy. All in all, it is very good book for a beginner, but as soon as you reach a certain level, you can see its limitation.

Neural Mechanisms of Color Vision: Double-Opponent Cells in the Visual Cortex

by Bevil Richard Conway

A book on a very specialized topic. It is a longer version of the papers published by the author. Not for the beginner.

Computational Models of Visual Processing

by Michael S. Landy (Editor), J. Anthony Movshon (Editor)

This book is a collection of computational models of Vision. Here you can find some very good information about existing algorithms regarding the functions of the visual cortex. The book is good, but a little bit old, lacking some of the advancements in color vision. However it can be of considerable help to the beginner.

Foundations of Vision

by Brian Wandell

This is a book that every Vision student must have in his collection. It is a very good book, approaching the problem of Vision from a more engineering point of view, than from neuroscience. To my opinion, the section of Color is not as extensive as I would hope it would be, focusing more one the retinal processing, rather than the higher cortical areas associated with the processing of color, such as V4.

Computational Vision: Information Processing in Perception and Visual Behavior

by Hanspeter A. Mallot (Author), John S. Allen (Translator)

A very good reference book focusing in the computational aspects of vision. The section dealing with color however is not as extensive as I would hope.

Neurobiology of Attention

by Laurent Itti (Author), Geraint Rees (Author), John K. Tsotsos (Author)

A collection of many small papers on the topic of visual attention. Very good for the beginner in the field of attention, both for literature review and understanding.

Filling-In: From Perceptual Completion to Cortical Reorganization

by Luiz Pessoa (Editor), Peter De Weerd (Editor)

Another book on a very specialized topic. Filling-in is an essential function of the cortex and can be found in brightness perception, stereo, color etc. This is a book that covers all these subjects. Not for the beginner.

Levels of Perception

by Laurence Harris (Editor), Michael Jenkin (Editor)

This is a collection of review papers in many aspects of visual perception. The section of Brightness and Lightness is particularly extensive and rather helpful. Not for the beginner.

The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach

by Christof Koch

A great book from a great scientist. This book is dealing with the topic of consciousness generally, rather than visual perception. The aim of the author is to find those neurobiological mechanisms that are necessary for the existence of consciousness.

On Intelligence

by Jeff Hawkins

This is a book that everyone MUST read. It does not deal with vision, but with an overall theory of mind-brain. I have rarely come across an author who can describe such complicated ideas in such an easy-to-grasp way. Jeff Hawkins is, to my opinion, as successful in describing intelligence as was Carl Sagan in describing Physics and Cosmology.

Swarm Intelligence

by Yuhui Shi

This is an irrelevant book to the topic of vision. However I have included it in this list because I believe that it is a very good book, dealing with the topic of parallel computations. Cellular automata, evolutionary algorithms and DNA computing are some of the topics covered.