Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 134, Issue 5–6, pp 1033–1057 | Cite as

The Eye of a Mathematical Physicist

  • Klaus HeppEmail author


In this essay we are searching for neural correlates of ‘doing mathematical physics’. We introduce a toy model of a mathematical physicist, a brain connected with the outside world only by vision and saccadic eye movements and interacting with a computer screen. First, we describe the neuroanatomy of the visuo-saccadic system and Listing’s law, which binds saccades and the optics of the eye. Then we explain space-time transformations in the superior colliculus, the performance of a canonical cortical circuit in the frontal eye field and finally the recurrent interaction of both areas, which leads to a coherent percept of space in spite of saccades. This sets the stage in the brain for doing mathematical physics, which is analyzed in simple examples.


Brain mathematics Computational neuroscience Eye movements Vision 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical PhysicsETHZZürichSwitzerland

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