Vincent Billock

Research Associate Professor

Contact Information

Postal address: 
320 W 10th Ave Room A255 Columbus, OH 43210

Biographical narrative

Vincent Billock, a Research Associate Professor at the OSU College of Optometry, does visual psychophysics and theoretical neuroscience. Before discovering vision, Dr. Billock trained as a physicist, earning BS and MS degrees at Miami University. He did his Ph.D. in sensory biophysics at Ohio State, studying color vision with Carl Ingling. He did postdocs in clinical vision at the Ophthalmology Department of Children’s Hospital (with Larry Leguire) and at the OSU College of Optometry, where he worked with Ewen King-Smith. Together they documented a novel kind of congenital color deficiency that results from reduction of ganglion cell subtypes in patients with optic nerve hypoplasia (Visual Neuroscience, 1994). From 1994-1996 he held an NIH National Research Service Award at the Florida Atlantic University Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, where he worked with Scott Kelso and studied complexity theory and its uses in understanding otherwise intractable visual phenomena. The bulk of his experience has been in military aeromedical research laboratories, where he has done research in visual perception and neuroscience for the U.S. Army and Air Force. He served as the Editor of Color and Vision for the Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and the Ohio Academy of Science. He was named a Diplomate (in Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry) by the America Acadmy of Optometry. His first book, “Chaos Reigns when Vision Fails: Complexity and Catastrophe in the Perception of Color and Contour,” should be published by Springer in 2018-2019.

Dr. Billock’s research interests tend to involve complexity theory approaches to vision. His experimental work has focused on ways to make vision fail catastrophically, as a tool of nonlinear systems identification. In these experiments subjects are made to see forbidden colors and biased hallucinations; images melt and shatter; and perceptual causality is violated. His theoretical work has dealt mostly with human color vision, sensory binding theory, and applications of nonlinear dynamics and fractal mathematics to human vision. For an overview of this work see Physica D (2000, 2001), Psychological Science (2001), TINS (2004), JCNS (2004, 2014), JOSA A (2005), PNAS (2007), Scientific American (2010), and Psychological Bulletin (2011, 2012). His current research focuses on visual channel interactions, multisensory modulation of vision, nonlinear dynamics of color vision, and on manipulating body ownership illusions and time perception in virtual reality.  His current funding comes from the National Science Foundation.


  • 1987, Ph.D., Ohio State University, The
  • 1983, M.S., Miami University
  • 1981, B.S., Miami University

Journal articles

  • Billock, VA. "Hallucinations.." Optometry and Vision Science. Vol. 90, (April 2013.): e124-125.
  • Billock,Vincent,A. "Mathematical Foundations of Neuroscience." NATURE. Vol. 468, no. 7324. (December 2010.): 630-631.
  • Billock,Vincent,A; Tsou,Brian,H. "Seeing Forbidden COLORS." SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Vol. 302, no. 2. (February 2010.): 72-77.
  • Billock,Vincent,A; Ditzinger,Thomas; Kelso,J,AScott; Tsou,Brian,H. "Fechner-Benham subjective colors do not induce McCollough after-effects." SPATIAL VISION. Vol. 19, no. 2-4. (January 2006.): 161-172.
  • Billock,V,A; Tsou,B,H. "What do catastrophic visual binding failures look like?." TRENDS IN NEUROSCIENCES. Vol. 27, no. 2. (February 2004.): 84-89.
  • Billock,V,A; Tsou,B,H. "Color, qualia, and psychophysical constraints on equivalence of color experience." BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES. Vol. 27, no. 1. (February 2004.): 164-?.
  • Billock, VA. "A framework for vision's bag of tricks.." Science. Vol. 300, (May 2003.): 742-743.
  • Billock,V,A; Gleason,G,A; Tsou,B,H. "Perception of forbidden colors in retinally stabilized equiluminant images: an indication of softwired cortical color opponency?." JOURNAL OF THE OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA A-OPTICS IMAGE SCIENCE AND VISION. Vol. 18, no. 10. (October 2001.): 2398-2403.
  • Billock,V,A; Havig,P,R; Tsou,B,H. "Flicker color hallucinatory morphogenesis: The nonlinear dynamics of self-organized pattern formation." INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE. Vol. 40, no. 4. (March 1999.): S355-S355.
  • Billock,V,A. "Consequences of retinal color coding for cortical color decoding." SCIENCE. Vol. 274, no. 5295. (December 1996.): 2118-2119.


  • Billock, VA, Cunningham, DW, Tsou, BH. "What Visual Discrimination of Fractal Textures can Tell us about Discrimination of camouflaged targets.." In Human Factors Issues in Combat Identification. Edited by Andrews, DH, Herz, RP, Wolf, MB. 99-112. Williston, VT, US|USA: Ashgate Publishing, January 2010.
  • Billock, VA, Ditzinger, T, Kelso, JAS, Tsou, BH. "Fechner-Benham Subjective Colors do not Induce McCollough aftereffects.." In Color, Line and Space. Edited by Pinna, B.. 59-70. Leiden: VSP Publications, December 2006.
  • Tsou, BH, Billock, VA. "Human Color and Vision." In Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. 748-759. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., June 2003.
  • Billock, VA, Tsou, BH. "Vision: Nonlinear Dynamic Approaches." In Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. 2917-2928. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., June 2003.
  • Billock, VA, Tsou, BH. "Visual Information Processing: Neural Strageties, Limitations and Tradeoffs.." In Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering. 2936-2948. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., June 2003.
  • Ermentrout, GB, Billock, VA. "Flicker-Induced Phosphenes.." In Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience. Edited by Jung, R.. -.
  • Billock, VA. "The Spectral Sensitivity of the Acuity Criteria: Effects of Nonlinear Summation of Psychophysically Isolated Parvocellular Receptive Field Centers.." In Colour Vision Deficiencies XII. Edited by Drum, B.. 259-265. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher, June 1995.
  • Billock, VA, King-Smith, PE, Vingrys, AJ, Grigsby SS, Benes, SC. "Opponent-Colour Detection Threshold Asymmetries in Subjects with Optic Nerve Abnormalities." In Colour Vision Deficiencies XII. Edited by Drum, B. 53-61. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, June 1995.
  • King-Smith, PE, Vingrys AJ, Benes, SC, Grigsby, SS, Billock, VA. "Detection of Light and Dark, Red and Green, and Blue and Yellow.." In Seeing Contour and Colour. Edited by Kulikowski, JJ, Dickinson, CM, Murray, IJ. 381-391. London: Pergamon Press, June 1989.