Temporal Properties of Liquid Crystal Displays: Implications for Vision Science Experiments

Citation:

Elze T, Tanner TG. Temporal Properties of Liquid Crystal Displays: Implications for Vision Science Experiments. PloS ONE. 2012;7:e44048.

Abstract:

Liquid crystal displays (LCD) are currently replacing the previously dominant cathode ray tubes (CRT) in most vision science applications. While the properties of the CRT technology are widely known among vision scientists, the photometric and temporal properties of LCDs are unfamiliar to many practitioners. We provide the essential theory, present measurements to assess the temporal properties of different LCD panel types, and identify the main determinants of the photometric output. Our measurements demonstrate that the specifications of the manufacturers are insufficient for proper display selection and control for most purposes. Furthermore, we show how several novel display technologies developed to improve fast transitions or the appearance of moving objects may be accompanied by side-effects in some areas of vision research. Finally, we unveil a number of surprising technical deficiencies. The use of LCDs may cause problems in several areas in vision science. Aside from the well-known issue of motion blur, the main problems are the lack of reliable and precise onsets and offsets of displayed stimuli, several undesirable and uncontrolled components of the photometric output, and input lags which make LCDs problematic for real-time applications. As a result, LCDs require extensive individual measurements prior to applications in vision science.