Neuroscience Seminar Series:
Suzana Martinez-Conde – Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Physiology & Pharmacology, State University of New York, USA
‘From exploration to fixation: how eye movements determine what we see’
Vision depends on motion: we see things either because they move or because our eyes do. What may be more surprising is that large and miniature eye motions help us examine the world in similar ways – largely at the same time. In this presentation, I will discuss recent research from my lab and others suggesting that exploration and gaze-fixation are not all that different processes in the brain. Our eyes scan visual scenes with a same general strategy whether the images are huge or tiny, or even when we try to fix our gaze. These findings indicate that exploration and fixation are not fundamentally different behaviors, but rather two ends of the same visual scanning continuum. They also imply that the same brain systems control our eye movements when we explore and when we fixate – an insight that may ultimately offer clues to understanding both normal oculomotor function in the healthy brain, and oculomotor dysfunction in neurological disease.