Jude Mitchell: Neural mechanisms of active vision in the marmoset monkey

University of Rochester


Jude Mitchell1*, Jacob Yates1,2, Shanna Coop1

1Center of Visual Science, University of Rochester, NY, USA, 2Department of Biology, University of Maryland, MD, USA

Human vision relies on rapid eye movements (saccades) 2-3 times every second to bring peripheral targets to central foveal vision for high resolution inspection. This rapid sampling of the world defines the perception-action cycle of natural vision and profoundly impacts our perception. Marmosets have similar visual processing and eye movements as humans, including a fovea that supports high-acuity central vision. Here, I present a novel approach developed in my laboratory for investigating the neural mechanisms of visual processing using naturalistic free viewing and simple target foraging paradigms. First, we establish that it is possible to map receptive fields in the marmoset with high precision in visual areas V1 and MT without constraints on fixation of the eyes. Instead, we use an off-line correction for eye position during foraging combined with high resolution eye tracking. This approach allows us to simultaneously map receptive fields, even at the precision of foveal V1 neurons, while also assessing the impact of eye movements on the visual information encoded. We find that the visual information encoded by neurons varies dramatically across the saccade to fixation cycle, with most information localized to brief post-saccadic transients. In a second study we examined if target selection prior to saccades can predictively influence how foveal visual information is subsequently processed in post-saccadic transients. Because every saccade brings a target to the fovea for detailed inspection, we hypothesized that predictive mechanisms might prime foveal populations to process the target. Using neural decoding from laminar arrays placed in foveal regions of area MT, we find that the direction of motion for a fixated target can be predictively read out from foveal activity even before its post-saccadic arrival. These findings highlight the dynamic and predictive nature of visual processing during eye movements and the utility of the marmoset as a model of active vision.

Funding sources:  NIH EY030998 to JM, Life Sciences Fellowship to JY


Organized by

Martin Rolfs/Margret Franke



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