Ione Fine

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Ione Fine, Ph.D.

(206) 685-6493
Advising: Possibly accepting new graduate students in 2024-2025, please email with questions.
Interests: Sight recovery technologies. The effects of long-term visual deprivation, Adult perceptual learning and plasticity, Psychophysics, fMRI and computational vision.


I'd recommend the following site ( to prospective students interested in human neuroscience. You can easily browse a list of faculty doing human neuroscience at UW and there's a page for FAQ.

My laboratory studies the computational and neurophysiological basis of visual processing, using a wide range of computational and experimental techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, patient studies, psychophysics and computational modeling.

Right now the lab has two main research directions. The first is plasticity in the visual system, including studies on perceptual learning in adulthood and the neural reorganization that occurs as a result of being blind or deaf.

The second is developing better stimulation protocols for retinal prostheses.


University of Rochester (1999)

  • Go to for up to date list of publications
  • Blindness and Human Brain Plasticity.Fine I, Park JM.Early blindness causes fundamental alterations of neural function across more than 25% of cortex-changes that span the gamut from metabolism to behavior and collectively represent one of the most dramatic examples of plasticity in the human brain. The goal of this review is to describe how the remarkable behavioral and neuroanatomical compensations demonstrated by blind individuals provide insights into the extent, mechanisms, and limits of human brain Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2018
  • Learning to see again: biological constraints on cortical plasticity and the implications for sight restoration technologies.Beyeler M, Rokem A, Boynton GM, Fine I.The 'bionic eye'-so long a dream of the future-is finally becoming a reality with retinal prostheses available to patients in both the US and Europe. However, clinical experience with these implants has made it apparent that the visual information provided by these devices differs substantially from normal sight. Consequently, the ability of patients to learn to make use of this abnormal retinal input plays a critical role in whether or not some functional vision is successfully regained. The goal of the present review is to summarize the vast basic science literature on developmental and adult cortical plasticity with an emphasis on how this literature might relate to the field of prosthetic vision. We begin with describing the distortion and information loss likely to be experienced by visual prosthesis users. We then define cortical plasticity and perceptual learning, and describe what is known, and what is unknown, about visual plasticity across the hierarchy of brain regions involved in visual processing, and across different stages of life. We close by discussing what is known about brain plasticity in sight restoration patients and discuss biological mechanisms that might eventually be harnessed to improve visual learning in these patients.Send toJ Neural Eng. 2017
  • Pulse trains to percepts: the challenge of creating a perceptually intelligible world with sight recovery technologies.Fine I, Boynton GM.An extraordinary variety of sight recovery therapies are either about to begin clinical trials, have begun clinical trials, or are currently being implanted in patients. However, as yet we have little insight into the perceptual experience likely to be produced by these implants. This review focuses on methodologies, such as optogenetics, small molecule photoswitches and electrical prostheses, which use artificial stimulation of the retina to elicit percepts. For each of these technologies, the interplay between the stimulating technology and the underlying neurophysiology is likely to result in distortions of the perceptual experience. Here, we describe some of these potential distortions and discuss how they might be minimized either through changes in the encoding model or through cortical plasticity.