Eye Micro-movements Improve Stimulus Detection Beyond the Nyquist Limit in the Peripheral Retina

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 16 (NIPS 2003)

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Matthias Hennig, Florentin Wörgötter


Even under perfect fixation the human eye is under steady motion (tremor, microsaccades, slow drift). The “dynamic” theory of vi- sion [1, 2] states that eye-movements can improve hyperacuity. Accord- ing to this theory, eye movements are thought to create variable spatial excitation patterns on the photoreceptor grid, which will allow for better spatiotemporal summation at later stages. We reexamine this theory us- ing a realistic model of the vertebrate retina by comparing responses of a resting and a moving eye. The performance of simulated ganglion cells in a hyperacuity task is evaluated by ideal observer analysis. We find that in the central retina eye-micromovements have no effect on the perfor- mance. Here optical blurring limits vernier acuity. In the retinal periph- ery however, eye-micromovements clearly improve performance. Based on ROC analysis, our predictions are quantitatively testable in electro- physiological and psychophysical experiments.