The Role of Spatial Indexes in Spatial Vision and Imagery

Zenon Pylyshyn

This paper describes a programmatic theory of a process in early visual processing called indexing. The theory hypothesizes that a small number of primitive indexes are available for individuating, tracking and providing direct access to salient visual objects. We discuss some empirical and theoretical arguments in favor of the proposed index as a resource-limited link between an internal visual representation and objects in the visual world. We argue that this link is needed to explain a large range of properties of vision, including the ability to simultaneously track multiple moving objects, to select a subset of visual items to process, as well as such larger issues as how mental images get their apparent metrical properties and why the world appears stable despite constant retinal motion.

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