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J Vis. 2017 Apr 1;17(4):9. doi: 10.1167/17.4.9.

Central and peripheral vision for scene recognition: A neurocomputational modeling exploration.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USApawang@ucsd.edu
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USAgary@ucsd.edu


What are the roles of central and peripheral vision in human scene recognition? Larson and Loschky (2009) showed that peripheral vision contributes more than central vision in obtaining maximum scene recognition accuracy. However, central vision is more efficient for scene recognition than peripheral, based on the amount of visual area needed for accurate recognition. In this study, we model and explain the results of Larson and Loschky (2009) using a neurocomputational modeling approach. We show that the advantage of peripheral vision in scene recognition, as well as the efficiency advantage for central vision, can be replicated using state-of-the-art deep neural network models. In addition, we propose and provide support for the hypothesis that the peripheral advantage comes from the inherent usefulness of peripheral features. This result is consistent with data presented by Thibaut, Tran, Szaffarczyk, and Boucart (2014), who showed that patients with central vision loss can still categorize natural scenes efficiently. Furthermore, by using a deep mixture-of-experts model ("The Deep Model," or TDM) that receives central and peripheral visual information on separate channels simultaneously, we show that the peripheral advantage emerges naturally in the learning process: When trained to categorize scenes, the model weights the peripheral pathway more than the central pathway. As we have seen in our previous modeling work, learning creates a transform that spreads different scene categories into different regions in representational space. Finally, we visualize the features for the two pathways, and find that different preferences for scene categories emerge for the two pathways during the training process.

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