Publication 5878

Parr T. & Friston K. J. (2017) The active construction of the visual world. Neuropsychologia 104: 92–101. Fulltext at
What we see is fundamentally dependent on where we look. Despite this seemingly obvious statement, many accounts of the neurobiology underpinning visual perception fail to consider the active nature of how we sample our sensory world. This review offers an overview of the neurobiology of visual perception, which begins with the control of saccadic eye movements. Starting from here, we can follow the anatomy backwards, to try to understand the functional architecture of neuronal networks that support the interrogation of a visual scene. Many of the principles encountered in this exercise are equally applicable to other perceptual modalities. For example, the somatosensory system, like the visual system, requires the sampling of data through mobile receptive epithelia. Analysis of a somatosensory scene depends on what is palpated, in much the same way that visual analysis relies on what is foveated. The discussion here is structured around the anatomical systems involved in active vision and visual scene construction, but will use these systems to introduce some general theoretical considerations. We will additionally highlight points of contact between the biology and the pathophysiology that has been proposed to cause a clinical disorder of scene construction – spatial hemineglect.


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