August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Symposium Summary
Author Affiliations
  • Ruth Rosenholtz
    MIT Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 22. doi:
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      Ruth Rosenholtz; Symposium Summary. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):22.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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What is the representation in early vision? Considerable research has demonstrated that the representation is not equally faithful throughout the visual field; representation appears to be coarser in peripheral and unattended vision, perhaps as a strategy for dealing with an information bottleneck in visual processing. In the last few years, a convergence of evidence has suggested that in peripheral and unattended regions, the information available consists of summary statistics. “Summary statistics” is a general term used to represent a class of measurements made by pooling over visual features of various levels of complexity, e.g. 1st order statistics such as mean orientation; joint statistics of responses of V1- like oriented feature detectors; or ensemble statistics that represent spatial layout information. Depending upon the complexity of the computed statistics, many attributes of a pattern may be perceived, yet precise location and configuration information is lost in favor of the statistical summary.

This proposed representation for early vision is related to suggestions that the brain can compute summary statistics when such statistics are useful for a given task, e.g. texture segmentation, or explicit judgments of mean size of a number of items. However, summary statistic models of early visual representation additionally suggest that under certain circumstances summary statistics are what the visual system is “stuck with,” even if more information would be useful for a given task

This symposium will cover a range of related topics and methodologies. Talks by Rosenholtz, Solomon, and Alvarez will examine evidence for a statistical representation in vision, and explore the capabilities of the system, using both behavioral experiments and computational modeling. Freeman will discuss where summary statistics might be computed in the brain, based upon a combination of physiological findings, fMRI, and behavioral experiments. Finally, we note that a summary statistic representation captures a great deal of important information, yet is ultimately lossy. Such a representation in peripheral and/or unattended vision has profound implications for visual perception in general, from peripheral recognition through visual awareness and visual cognition. Rosenholtz, Oliva, and Balas will discuss implications for a diverse set of tasks, including peripheral recognition, visual search, visual illusions, scene perception, and visual cognition. The power of this new way of thinking about vision becomes apparent precisely from implications for a wide variety of visual tasks, and from evidence from diverse methodologies.

Rosenholtz, R. (2010). Symposium Summary [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):22, 22a,, doi:10.1167/10.7.22. [CrossRef]

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