The laboratory was founded in 1951. Professor L. T. Zagorulko was its first Head, Professor Glezer guided the Laboratory in 1960–1987 and since 1988 it is headed by Professor Yu. E. Shelepin.
The Laboratory concentrates on studies of physiological mechanisms underlying processing of spatial information and on modeling main visual algorithms of processing of natural images.
In the 1950s, the Laboratory team mainly studied eye movements, pupil and lens accommodation processes. This study was a part of Pavlovian investigation of the visual system as an analyzer of surrounding world. In 1960s a new approach was developed which considered vision as information processing mechanism. New approach generated a model in which the visual system was represented by a set of parallel channels. Each channel processes different kind of information about an object. In 1970s, neurophysiological experiments resulted in a model in which the visual system was considered as a Fournier analyzer performing local transformation of an object. The basis for such analysis constituted cortical receptive fields. This work was important for construction of digital television systems and algorithms of information compression in video information processing. In 1980-1990, a model of invariant description of objects by visual cortical modules was proposed.
In 1990s, the Laboratory started new studies of algorithms of perception natural scenes from the point of view of the theory of information processing. This approach allowed studying various aspects of visual perception using one unified approach. During past decades such approach resulted in experimental and theoretical work covering wide area of vision research. Of a particular laboratory interest were factors limiting perception of information of surrounding world, algorithms of the visual scene segmentation and object identification, studies of crowding effects using coloured tests, measures of contrast sensitivity of the human visual system to the tests of different spatial frequency presented on noisy backgrounds in normal subjects and in patients with various ophthalmological and neurological diseases. A model of match filtering in the human visual system has been proposed and successfully tested in experiments requiring figure-noise segregation. This model allows to measure visual efficiency in detection and recognition of visual images. Ergonomic standards for working with displays were developed. New methods of measuring contrast sensitivity (visiocontrastometry), vision acuity, and methods of measuring the level of internal noise in the human visual system became standard methods in ophthalmological institutions.
In its research the Laboratory uses modern technology to generate visual stimuli, process experimental results and modeling which allows to carry psychophysical, psychophysiological, ergonomic and neuroophthalmologic studies at the level accepted by world vision research society. Apart from fundamental problems of vision physiology, the Laboratory, in cooperation with Russian and foreign institutions, takes active part in solving practical tasks in information processing technologies, metrology, aviation and space technology, and medicine (ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry).
During last years the Laboratory, in cooperation with the University of the Aerospace Apparatus Construction, Military Medical Academy, Cambridge and St. Petersburg Universities, as well as with other Laboratories of this Institute, continues the interdisciplinary research involving cognitive psychology, resistance of the visual system to noise, interaction of various brain areas in perception, architecture of the binocular visual system.
On the basis of the Laboratory, the regular Interdisciplinary Seminar « Physiology of vision and iconic » gathers scientists of practically all leading laboratories in the world-wide field of vision research.