Hi, I’m Jacob Yates

I’m an Open Philanthropy Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. I’m currently a postdoc in the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Butts. I collaborate closely with Drs. Jude Mitchell and Michele Rucci at the University of Rochester.

My research is broadly focused on how mammalian brains extract information about the world using vision. This is an active process and is highly specialized in humans and other primates. My specific research questions are related to general principles of active vision and primate-specific specializations for high-resolution spatial vision.

You can find my full publication list here and I am sometimes active on Twitter @jcbyts.

This website is an overview of my work, but it is (very much) under construction.

Active Vision

Most animals with complex spatial vision use image-forming eyes and a “saccade and fixate” pattern of eye movements to see the world. However, their eyes are never still, counter-rotating relative to body and/or head movements, and drifting during “fixations”, such that the input to the retina is better thought of as a spatiotemporal movie instead of a stable (or unstable) image. My research aims to understand the algorithms the brain uses (in cortical visual areas) to utilize information that is generated by the motion of the eyes. To approach this, I use a combination of high-resolution eye-tracking and statistical models of both the visual input and neural activity in visual cortex.

Foveal Processing

Humans see best at the very center center of their visual field. This “high-resolution” region is called the fovea and, among mammals, only primates have one. The primate fovea is a highly-specialized anatomical adaptation for high-resolution spatial vision and it differs substantially from the peripheral retina and the retinas of other mammals.