GRE Subject Test: Psychology : Vision

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Example Question #1 : Vision

Phyllis is 63 years old, and recently she has noticed that colors do not appear as bright or clear as they used to in her memory. She is having trouble driving and reading, but can still knit and cook with little to no issues (i.e. she remembers the recipes without having to read them). Which of the following conditions is most likely affecting Phyllis?

Possible Answers:

Prosopagnosia

Hemeralopia

Glaucoma

Cataracts

Macular degeneration

Correct answer:

Macular degeneration

Explanation:

Macular degeneration is a degenerative condition affecting the retina and choroid—the blood supply that feeds the retina. In either "dry" or "wet" forms, it causes progressive central blindness while leaving the peripheral vision largely intact. It is estimated that from 40-55 million people worldwide suffer from the condition, which is suspected to have been long under-diagnosed.

Example Question #1 : Vision

Which of the following best defines a feature detector?

Possible Answers:

Structures we use to organize the stimuli in our environment

A neuron that responds to stimuli in one's environment

Cone cells

The place in the ear where transduction occurs

Correct answer:

A neuron that responds to stimuli in one's environment

Explanation:

The interpretation of sensory stimuli is an important biological process. Feature detectors play an important role in the sense of sight. Once visual signals reach the primary visual cortex, specialized visual cells called "feature detectors" code for the elements of stimuli that are most important.

Example Question #3 : Vision

How do infants typically react when placed on a visual cliff? What do these findings suggest?

Possible Answers:

They remain still. Young infants are not yet perceptually aware of depth cues.

They move towards the shallow side of the visual cliff. Infants learn early in development to fear heights.

They move towards the shallow side of the visual cliff. A degree of depth perception seems to be innate.

None of these

They remain still. Infants have no conception of depth.

Correct answer:

They move towards the shallow side of the visual cliff. A degree of depth perception seems to be innate.

Explanation:

Infants will move towards the shallow side of the visual cliff apparatus. This behavior is exhibited a significant percentage of times, even when their mothers stand at the "deep" end, and encourage them to step over the "cliff."

These findings suggest that young infants are aware of depth cues, as in the case of the visual cliff, and are able to modify their behavior appropriately in response to these. The young age of the infants involved in such experimentation suggests that at least a degree of depth perception is innate. It is inconclusive how much of this ability is innate and how much learned, though it seems most likely to be a combination of both 'nature' and 'nurture'. The significance of such studies was to demonstrate that 'nature' had a role.

Example Question #4 : Vision

Where does transduction occur in the visual sense?

Possible Answers:

Cornea

Pupil and iris

Photoreceptors in the retina

Ganglion cells in the retina

Optic nerve

Correct answer:

Photoreceptors in the retina

Explanation:

Transduction is the conversion of energy from one form to another. In the context of psychology and sensation, it refers to the conversion of information carrying energy from the environment into information carrying electrical energy within the nervous system. In vision, this involves the conversion of light into electrical energy. This occurs in the retina of the eye, when photopigments break down in the presence of light, and trigger responses in photoreceptor cells, that then transmit the electrical energy to the brain. Ganglion cells also lie within the retina, but these do not play a role in transduction. The pupil allows light to enter the eye and reach the retina, but is not the location of transduction. Neither is the cornea—the outer layer of the eye—nor the optic nerve, which carries information from the retina to the visual cortex.

Example Question #5 : Vision

Where is visual acuity the greatest?

Possible Answers:

Cornea

Retina

Fovea

Ciliary muscles

Optic nerve

Correct answer:

Fovea

Explanation:

The fovea is the location of the highest concentration of cones. The cones are the photopigment responsible for color vision, and are associated with high acuity vision. This is relative to rods, which are sensitive under low light conditions, but which do not produce highly accurate visual detail. As the fovea has the highest concentration of cones, it is also the area of greatest visual acuity on the retina. This area is centrally located on the retina, and corresponds to the focus of one's gaze. In other words, the light from any object one focuses on will be falling upon the fovea. This is why our visual acuity is greatest at the center of our visual field. Although the fovea is located on the retina, it would be redundant to describe 'the retina' as the location of the greatest visual acuity, as the retina is the only body organ capable of transducing visual information. The optic nerve exits the eye through an area devoid of photoreceptors, known as the blindspot. This area in fact processes no visual information, and is an incorrect choice. The ciliary muscles are responsible for changing the shape of the lens. These do not contribute to transduction. Last, the cornea is the outer layer of the eye. It does not contribute to transduction.

Example Question #2 : Vision

Which scenario best describes the phenomenon of blindsight?

Possible Answers:

A label for the phenomenon where blind individuals may make informed guesses about visual stimuli through environmental context and the use of their other senses.

An individual is unable to consciously perceive, yet can correctly answer questions about basic visual cues (eg: movement) above a percentage attributable to chance.

None of these

An individual has full cortical blindness, but nonetheless confabulates a visual experience, and is unaware of their condition.

The term for a paranormal ability akin to clairvoyance, in which one is purportedly able to see without the use of their eyes.

Correct answer:

An individual is unable to consciously perceive, yet can correctly answer questions about basic visual cues (eg: movement) above a percentage attributable to chance.

Explanation:

Blindsight is a phenomenon wherein an individual is unable to consciously perceive visual stimuli due to cortical blindness, but nonetheless possesses healthy eyes. Individuals evidencing blindsight will be able to correctly guess about basic visual conditions in their environment (i.e. in a laboratory setting) at a higher success rate than could be accounted for by chance alone. These individuals will not report any conscious experience or awareness of the visual details they are 'guessing', and will believe they are simply guessing blindly. It is believed that in these cases, an older component of the visual system, dating back to the reptilian brain and not available to consciousness, is contributing to these "guesses." Anton-Babinski syndrome is a condition in which an individual with cortical blindness will report confabulated visual experiences, and deny their lack of vision. The remaining two answer choices are fictitious and incorrect.

Example Question #2 : Vision

Farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism are visual deficiencies caused by which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Damage to the sensory nerves involved in vision

Abnormalities in the physical shape of the eye

Psychosomatic conditions, such as body dysmorphic disorder

Irregularities in or damage to the visual cortex

None of these

Correct answer:

Abnormalities in the physical shape of the eye

Explanation:

Abnormalities in the shape of the eye are the cause of all of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Typically nearsightedness and farsightedness are caused by irregularities in the lens of the eye. This causes light to improperly be focused relative to the retina. As a result, either near or far images will appear out of focus, due to the improper adjustment of the lens. In the case of astigmatism, the cornea as well as the lens may be implicated, in which case the an abnormality in the curvature of this front portion of the eye contributes to blurry vision. All of these defects may be corrected by LASIK, or corrective lenses. Damage to the nervous system or the visual cortex would lead to partial or total cortical blindness, not to these conditions. Though some psychological disorders are implicated in visual deficits, they do not play a role in these three.

Example Question #3 : Vision

The Ishihara test is a diagnostic of which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Ability to discriminate between changes in a stimulus

Color vision deficiencies

All of these

Auditory acuity

Attention to minute stimuli 

Correct answer:

Color vision deficiencies

Explanation:

The Ishihara test is a diagnostic tool for assessing deficiencies in color vision. It presents tester takers with numbers formed out of colored circles. These numbers are set against a background formed of further colored circles, in hues paired to assess color blindness. If the tester is unable to distinguish the number from the background, then they likely suffer color blindness. The test examines red-green color blindness. The test does not determine auditory acuity. Likewise it does not assess attention to stimuli, nor the ability to discriminate between changes in a stimulus.

Example Question #9 : Vision

Which of the following eye movements are required for reading?

Possible Answers:

Reflexive eye movementsa

All of these

Smooth pursuit 

Vergence

Saccade

Correct answer:

Saccade

Explanation:

Saccades can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. The voluntary saccades allow you to rapidly change fixation from one object to another. This action allows you to read by rapidly changing your fixation on different words and locations on the page. Vergence is when two eyes move in the opposite direction, this would not allow you to focus on the words on the page, making reading impossible (trying to read while "crossing" your eyes). Smooth pursuit is when the eyes smoothly follow a moving object, words on a page are stationary in most situations. Reflexive eye movements are involuntary whereas reading is a voluntary action. 

Example Question #10 : Vision

Which of the following regarding the magnocellular system is true?

Possible Answers:

It is sensitive to color

Is involved in more ventral brain regions involved in recognizing objects.

It carries low temporal frequency information

It carries high spatial frequency information

It is colorblind

Correct answer:

It is colorblind

Explanation:

The magnocellular system is colorblind and it carries low spatial frequency information and high temporal frequency information in the more dorsal regions of the posterior half of the brain. This means the visual information it carries is about large, fast things leading to the processing of information about location. The other answer options pertain to the parvocellular system.

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