Since Hubel and Wiesel's seminal findings in the primary visual cortex (V1) more than 50 years ago,
progress in vision science has been very limited along previous frameworks and schools of thoughts
on understanding vision. Have we been asking the right questions? I will show observations motivating the new path. First, a drastic information bottleneck forces the brain to process only a tiny fraction of the massive visual input information; this selection is called the attentional selection,
how to select this tiny fraction is critical. Second, a large body of evidence has been accumulating
to suggest that the primary visual cortex (V1) is where this selection starts, suggesting that the visual cortical areas along the visual pathway beyond V1 must be investigated in light of this selection in V1. Placing attentional selection as the center stage, a new path to understanding vision is proposed (articulated in my book "Understanding vision: theory, models, and data", Oxford University Press 2014). I will show a first example of using this new path, which aims to ask new questions and make fresh progresses. I will relate our insights to artificial vision systems to discuss issues like top-down feedbacks in hierachical processing, analysis-by-synthesis, and image understanding.
Biography: Zhaoping Li obtained her B.S. in Physics in 1984 from Fudan University, Shanghai, and Ph.D. in Physics in 1989 from California Institute of Technology. She was a postdoctoral researcher in Fermi National Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois USA, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton New Jersey, USA, and Rockefeller University in New York USA. She has been a faculty member in Computer Science in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and was a visiting scientist at various academic institutions. In 1998, her colleagues and she co-founded the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit in University College London. From Oct. 2018, she is a professor in University of Tuebingen and a Max Planck Fellow in the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tuebingen, Germany. Her research experience throughout the years ranges from areas in high energy physics to neurophysiology and marine biology, with most experience in understanding the brain functions in vision, olfaction, and in nonlinear neural dynamics. In late 90s and early 2000s, she proposed a theory (which is being extensively tested) that the primary visual cortex in the primate brain creates a saliency map to automatically attract visual attention to salient visual locations. She is the author of Understanding Vision: theory, models, and data , Oxford University Press, 2014.