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We present a storage-efficient and computationally fast method for rapid navigation/browsing through large image repositories and for content-based image retrieval. In the developed system, multiple resolution, orientation achromatic, and opponent chromatic channels are sequentially encoded by a maximal information sensory encoding model, which conveniently and effectively indexes the images into a binary tree data structure. Content-based image retrieval, database navigation, and image browsing are done very efficiently and rapidly by manipulating the n-bit binary keys in the binary tree data structure. We present experimental results to demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.