An Information-Theoretic Framework for Understanding Saccadic Eye Movements

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 12 (NIPS 1999)

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Tai Sing Lee, Stella Yu


In this paper, we propose that information maximization can pro(cid:173) vide a unified framework for understanding saccadic eye move(cid:173) ments. In this framework, the mutual information among the cor(cid:173) tical representations of the retinal image, the priors constructed from our long term visual experience, and a dynamic short-term internal representation constructed from recent saccades provides a map for guiding eye navigation . By directing the eyes to loca(cid:173) tions of maximum complexity in neuronal ensemble responses at each step, the automatic saccadic eye movement system greedily collects information about the external world, while modifying the neural representations in the process. This framework attempts to connect several psychological phenomena, such as pop-out and inhibition of return, to long term visual experience and short term working memory. It also provides an interesting perspective on contextual computation and formation of neural representation in the visual system.