Correcting for physical distortions in visual stimuli improves reproducibility in zebrafish neuroscience.
Optical refraction causes light to bend at interfaces between optical media. This phenomenon can significantly distort visual stimuli presented to aquatic animals in water, yet refraction has often been ignored in the design and interpretation of visual neuroscience experiments. Here we provide a computational tool that transforms between projected and received stimuli in order to detect and control these distortions. The tool considers the most commonly encountered interface geometry, and we show that this and other common configurations produce stereotyped distortions. By correcting these distortions, we reduced discrepancies in the literature concerning stimuli that evoke escape behavior, and we expect this tool will help reconcile other confusing aspects of the literature. This tool also aids experimental design, and we illustrate the dangers that uncorrected stimuli pose to receptive field mapping experiments.
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