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A model of human pattern perception: association fields for adaptive spatial filters

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Visual neurons in the primary visual cortex 'look' at the retinal image through a four-dimensional array of spatial receptive fields (filter-elements): two spatial dimensions and, at each spatial location, two Fourier dimensions of spatial frequency and orientation. In general, visual objects activate filter-elements along each of these dimensions, suggesting a need for some kind of linking mechanism that determines whether two or more filter-elements are responding to the same or different contours or objects. In the spatial domain, a (spatial) association field between filter-elements, arranged to form first-order curves, has been inferred as a flexible method by which different parts of extended (luminance) contours become associated (Field et al., 1993). Linking has also been explored between filters selective for different regions in Fourier space (e.g. Georgeson and Meese, 1997). Perceived structure of stationary plaids suggests that spatial filtering is adaptive: synthetic filters can be created by the linear summation of basis-filters across orientation or spatial frequency in a stimulus-dependent way. For example, a plaid with a pair of sine-wave components at ±45 deg looks like a blurred checkerboard; a structure that can be understood if features are derived after linear summation of spatial filters at different orientations. However, the addition of an oblique third-harmonic component causes the plaid to perceptually segment into overlapping oblique contours. This result can be understood if filters are summed across spatial frequency, but, in this case, treated independently across orientation. In the present paper, the architecture of an association field is proposed to permit linking and segmentation of filter-elements across spatial frequency and orientation. Three types of link are proposed: (1) A chain of constructive links around sites of common spatial frequency but different orientation, to promote binding of filters across orientation; (2) Constructive links between sites with common orientation but different spatial frequency, to promote binding of filters across spatial frequency; (3) Long-range links between sites of common spatial frequency but different orientation, whose activation and role are determined by activity in a higher spatial frequency band. A model employing the proposed network of links is consistent with at least six previously reported effects on the perception of briefly presented stationary plaids.

Affiliations: 1: Vision Sciences, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK


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