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Journal Article

The distribution of visual objects on the retina: connecting eye movements and cone distributions

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Lewis, A., Garcia, R., & Zhaoping, L. (2003). The distribution of visual objects on the retina: connecting eye movements and cone distributions. Journal of Vision, 3(11): 21, pp. 893-905. doi:10.1167/3.11.21.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-D7B9-B
Experimental data on the accuracy and frequency of saccades are incorporated into a model of the visual world and eye movements to determine the spatial distribution of visual objects on the retina. Visual scenes are represented as sequences of discrete small objects whose positions are initially uniformly distributed and then moved toward the center of the retina by eye movements. We then use this model to investigate whether the distribution of cones in the retina maximizes the information transferred about object position. Assuming for simplicity that a single cone is activated by the object, the rate of information transfer is maximized at the receptor stage if the probability that a target lies at a position on the retina is proportional to the local cone density. Although qualitatively it is easy to understand why the cone density is higher at the fovea, by linking the cone density with eye movements through information sampling theory, we provide an explanation for its quantitative variation across the retina. The human cone distribution and the object distribution in our model visual world are shown to have the same general form and are in close agreement between 5- and 30-deg eccentricity.