Michael Silver, PhD

Professor of Vision Science, Optometry, and Neuroscience


Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Research Interests

Neural correlates of human visual perception, attention, and learning

The goals of our laboratory's research are to understand how the brain constructs representations of the environment and how these representations are modified by cognitive processes such as attention, expectation, and learning. We address these questions by applying a combination of behavioral, neuroimaging, electrophysiological, modeling, and pharmacological techniques to the study of both healthy human participants as well as patients who suffer from diseases that affect perceptual processing. Specifically, we are investigating the neurophysiological and neurochemical substrates of visual attention and perceptual learning, effects of acetylcholine on perception, memory, and neural representations, visual processing in schizophrenia, binocular rivalry, functional subdivisions of the lateral geniculate nucleus, representation of visual space in the brain, and auditory perception.


Vision Science 206D. Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of the Eye and Visual System


Structure and function of the neurosensory retina, photoreceptors, RPE including blood supply. Current concepts of etiology and management of major retinal conditions. Overview of diagnostic techniques in retinal imaging, electrophysiologic testing and new genetic approaches. Structure and function of the early visual pathway including retinal ganglion cells, optic nerves, lateral geniculate nucleus and visual cortex. Pupillary responses. Specialization in the visual cortex.

Vision Science 212B. Visual Neurophysiology and Development


Introduction for graduate students. Visual pathways will be considered from retina to lateral geniculate to visual cortex. Basic organization at each stage will be covered. Primary focus will be studies of receptive field characteristics and associated visual function. Development and plasticity of the same visual pathways will also be covered. Evidence and implications will be explored from controlled rearing procedures and studies of abnormal visual exposure.

Vision Science 262. Visual Cognitive Neuroscience


Overview of visual cognitive neuroscience, drawing from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology in humans and animal models, psychophysics, neuroimaging, neuropharmacology, neuropsychology, and computational models of vision and cognition. Topics include experimental methods, basic anatomy and physiology of the mammalian visual system, motion perception and processing, representation of visual space, brightness and color, object and face recognition, visual attention, developmental and adult plasticity, perceptual learning, and visual awareness.

Selected Publications



School of Optometry
528 Minor Addition
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 642-3130