Inferring visual space from ultra-fine extra-retinal knowledge of gaze position.

TitleInferring visual space from ultra-fine extra-retinal knowledge of gaze position.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsZhao Z, Ahissar E, Victor JD, Rucci M
JournalNat Commun
Date Published2023 Jan 17
KeywordsEye Movements, Fixation, Ocular, Humans, Motion, Retina

It has long been debated how humans resolve fine details and perceive a stable visual world despite the incessant fixational motion of their eyes. Current theories assume these processes to rely solely on the visual input to the retina, without contributions from motor and/or proprioceptive sources. Here we show that contrary to this widespread assumption, the visual system has access to high-resolution extra-retinal knowledge of fixational eye motion and uses it to deduce spatial relations. Building on recent advances in gaze-contingent display control, we created a spatial discrimination task in which the stimulus configuration was entirely determined by oculomotor activity. Our results show that humans correctly infer geometrical relations in the absence of spatial information on the retina and accurately combine high-resolution extraretinal monitoring of gaze displacement with retinal signals. These findings reveal a sensory-motor strategy for encoding space, in which fine oculomotor knowledge is used to interpret the fixational input to the retina.

Alternate JournalNat Commun
PubMed ID36650146
PubMed Central IDPMC9845343
Grant ListR01 EY007977 / EY / NEI NIH HHS / United States
R01 EY018363 / EY / NEI NIH HHS / United States