Ohad Ben-Shahar (Ben-Gurion University)
Tuesday, 20.3.2012, 11:30
Our visual attention is attracted by salient stimuli in our environment and affected by primitive features such as orientation, color, and motion. Perceptual saliency due to orientation contrast has been extensively demonstrated in behavioral experiments with humans and other primates and is commonly explained by the very particular functional organization of the primary visual cortex. We challenge this prevailing view by studying orientation-based visual saliency in two non-mammalian species with enormous evolutionary distance to humans. The surprising results not only imply the need to reestablish our understanding of how these processes work at the neural level, but they also suggest that orientation-based saliency has computational optimality in a wide variety of ecological contexts, and thus constitutes a universal building block for efficient visual information processing in general.
Disclaimer: While computational vision serves both as inspiration and as an analysis tool in this research, it is far from being the focus of this talk.