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The architecture of visual cortex and inferential processes in vision

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

This paper is organised approximately into two halves. In the first half, I review evidence about the structure of the visual system, and I use that evidence to frame what I think are widely held but often implicit ideas about how it works, namely that vision is principally analysis of retinal input. These ideas have been strongly influenced by engineering approaches; form a default view of the visual system that suffuses all the language used to describe it (at least in visual neuroscience); and are to some extent supported by the structural evidence. In the second half, I explore some inconvenient facts from neuroanatomy and neurophysiology which are quite uncomfortable for the traditional view. I then set out a contrary view of how structure and function are linked in the visual system, which is a neurobiological variety of the quite developed view in psychophysics that vision is better understood as knowledge-rich inference. Finally, I explore some of the ramifications of this view for neurophysiological understanding of how the visual system might operate during normal vision.

Affiliations: 1: Neural Systems Group, Department of Psychology, Claremont Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK


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