Stereoscopic Depth Perception in the Owl

Neuroreport. 1998 Apr 20;9(6):1233-7. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199804200-00050.


It is unclear whether the neural algorithm that underlies stereoscopic vision in birds incorporates both low level (camouflage breaking) and high level (depth ordering) comparisons of information available to each of the eyes. Both visual functions were successfully tested by examining transitive inference performance in two barn owls trained to discriminate static Julesz random dot stereograms, thus demonstrating a capacity to detect relative depth using fine retinal disparity as the sole cue for discrimination. Our behavioral tests provide strong evidence that the barn owl possesses global stereopsis comparable to that found in the macaque monkey--the owl's best stereoacuity was 2 min of arc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Psychophysics
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology*