Event Abstract

Dynamical control of eye movements in an active visual search task: theory and experiments

  • 1 University of California at San Diego, Department of Cognitive Science , United States

The dynamics of cognitive control of eye movements are poorly understood. While there have been some recent analyses of "where" people fixate in a visual search task, there is a comparative paucity of understanding of "when" people saccade from one location to another. Here, we propose an optimality framework, using stochastic control theory, to examine both questions. We cast the visual search task as a sequential, dynamic decision-making problem, in which sensory processing and motor control, as well as their dynamic interplay, are optimized with respect to behavioral objectives such as speed and accuracy. We also present human behavioral data from a novel visual search task, in which we carefully control the level of stimulus noise and the relative costs of inaccuracy and search delay. We manipulate key computational parameters in the experiment, such as the spatial distribution of reward and information, which are the key determinants of the trade-off between exploitation and exploration, respectively. We measure subjects’ sequential choices of fixation locations as well as fixation duration, and demonstrate that, relative to the optimality model, subjects efficiently learn the statistics of the environment and utilize them to optimally control their eye movements to achieve quantitatively specified task objectives. We conclude from this study that the active component of vision is highly optimized and adaptive with respect to environmental statistics and task demands, and that stochastic control theory provides valuable tools for the formulation of an optimality framework for sequential decision-making problems such as active sensory processing.

Conference: Computational and Systems Neuroscience 2010, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, 25 Feb - 2 Mar, 2010.

Presentation Type: Poster and Short Oral Presentation

Topic: Poster session III

Citation: Huang H, Schilz J and Yu AJ (1900). Dynamical control of eye movements in an active visual search task: theory and experiments. Front. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Computational and Systems Neuroscience 2010. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnins.2010.03.00128

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Received: 01 Jan 1900; Published Online: 01 Jan 1900.

* Correspondence: He Huang, University of California at San Diego, Department of Cognitive Science, San Diego, United States, crane081@gmail.com