Nonretinotopic visual processing in the brain

David Melcher, Maria Concetta Morrone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A basic principle in visual neuroscience is the retinotopic organization of neural receptive fields. Here, we review behavioral, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging evidence for nonretinotopic processing of visual stimuli. A number of behavioral studies have shown perception depending on object or external-space coordinate systems, in addition to retinal coordinates. Both single-cell neurophysiology and neuroimaging have provided evidence for the modulation of neural firing by gaze position and processing of visual information based on craniotopic or spatiotopic coordinates. Transient remapping of the spatial and temporal properties of neurons contingent on saccadic eye movements has been demonstrated in visual cortex, as well as frontal and parietal areas involved in saliency/priority maps, and is a good candidate to mediate some of the spatial invariance demonstrated by perception. Recent studies suggest that spatiotopic selectivity depends on a low spatial resolution system of maps that operates over a longer time frame than retinotopic processing and is strongly modulated by high-level cognitive factors such as attention. The interaction of an initial and rapid retinotopic processing stage, tied to new fixations, and a longer lasting but less precise nonretinotopic level of visual representation could underlie the perception of both a detailed and a stable visual world across saccadic eye movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere017
JournalVisual neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 15 2015


  • Attention
  • Eye movements
  • Gainfields
  • Remapping
  • Retinotopy
  • Spatial coordinates
  • Spatiotopy
  • Visual stability
  • Visual system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonretinotopic visual processing in the brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this