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The `foveation hypothesis' states that the SC elicits saccades which foveate the stimuli activating it for further examination.

Rucci et al. explain audio-visual map registration and learning of orienting responses to audio-visual stimuli by what they call value-dependent learning: After each motor response, a modulatory system evaluated whether that response was good, bringing the target into the center of the visual field of the system, or bad. The learning rule used by the system was such that it strengthened connections between neurons from the different neural subpopulations of the network if they were highly correlated whenever the modulatory response was strong, and weakened otherwise.

The part of the visual map in the superficial SC corresponding to the center of the visual field has the highest spatial resolution.

It makes sense that sub-cortical visual processing uses peripheral information more than cortical processing:

  • sub-cortical processing is concerned with latent monitoring of the environment for potential dangers (or conspecifiics)
  • sub-cortical processing is concerned with watching the environment and guiding attention in cortical processing.

The part of the visual cortex dedicated to processing signals from the fovea is much greater than that dealing with peripheral signals.