[visionlist] What can retinotopy tell us about how the brain allows us to see?

Tomas Knapen tknapen at gmail.com
Tue Sep 26 16:15:26 -04 2023

Hi Jorge,

We recently wrote a review about exactly this issue, prompted by a slew of recent studies showing coding of visual space throughout the brain (1). This builds on many ideas, also from the ones you’re citing. I personally love Koenderink earlier work on this subject too (2).

Interesting directions (again, personal opinion) are how different regions have specific biases in the representation of visual space, like in Uri Hasson’s earlier work (3). And, recent ideas by Mike Arcaro and Marge Livingstone about how different sensory topographies relate to one another (4). 

Hope this helps, would love to discuss more.


1.Groen, I. I. A., Dekker, T. M., Knapen, T. & Silson, E. H. Visuospatial coding as ubiquitous scaffolding for human cognition. Trends Cogn Sci (2021) doi:10.1016/j.tics.2021.10.011.
2.Koenderink, J. J. The brain a geometry engine. Psychological Res 52, 122–127 (1990).
3.Hasson, U., Levy, I., Behrmann, M., Hendler, T. & Malach, R. Eccentricity Bias as an Organizing Principle for Human High-Order Object Areas. Neuron 34, 479–490 (2002).
4.Arcaro, M. J. & Livingstone, M. S. On the relationship between maps and domains in inferotemporal cortex. Nat Rev Neurosci 22, 573–583 (2021).

> On 26 Sep 2023, at 20:23, Jorge Almeida <jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com> wrote:
> Just some context that I should have given (sorry!!!). This comes from 1) the beautiful discussions on the functional role of retinotopy for instance between people like Jon Kaas and others (e.g., "Kaas, J (1997). Topographic maps are fundamental to sensory processing. Brain Research Bulletin, 44(2), 107-112. vs. Weinberg, R. (1997). Are topographic maps fundamental to sensory processing?  Brain Research Bulletin, 44(2), 113-116.); and 2) trying to understand how, in general, topographic maps such as retinotopy can be important functionally (and not just neurally) and can guide our understanding of how the mind works (at different levels of abstraction). Thank you all so much!
> jorge almeida
> On Mon, Sep 25, 2023 at 11:51 PM Jorge Almeida <jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com <mailto:jorgecbalmeida at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> I was wondering if some of you can point me to a set of papers (or just send out some ideas) on whether and how the fact that we show that visual cortex is organized in a retinotipic map (or tonotopy in auditory cortex) is important in understanding how vision works/the brain allows for visual processes.
>> That is, is there a function for retinotopy as it comes to vision? How does showing retinotopic maps tell us anything about how vision works (mostly we focus on things like reducing connections and thus saving energy)? How does it impact visual processing? What have we learnt about visual cognition from retinotopy? Perhaps even, are there visual effects that are a consequence of retinotopy?
>> Sorry if the formulation of the question is not super clear and thanks in advance!
>> Jorge Almeida
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