A Probabilistic Approach to the Primary Visual Cortex

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Title: A Probabilistic Approach to the Primary Visual Cortex
Author: Köster, Urs
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Computer Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2009-10-05
Language: en
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-5715-1
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: What can the statistical structure of natural images teach us about the human brain? Even though the visual cortex is one of the most studied parts of the brain, surprisingly little is known about how exactly images are processed to leave us with a coherent percept of the world around us, so we can recognize a friend or drive on a crowded street without any effort. By constructing probabilistic models of natural images, the goal of this thesis is to understand the structure of the stimulus that is the raison d etre for the visual system. Following the hypothesis that the optimal processing has to be matched to the structure of that stimulus, we attempt to derive computational principles, features that the visual system should compute, and properties that cells in the visual system should have. Starting from machine learning techniques such as principal component analysis and independent component analysis we construct a variety of sta- tistical models to discover structure in natural images that can be linked to receptive field properties of neurons in primary visual cortex such as simple and complex cells. We show that by representing images with phase invariant, complex cell-like units, a better statistical description of the vi- sual environment is obtained than with linear simple cell units, and that complex cell pooling can be learned by estimating both layers of a two-layer model of natural images. We investigate how a simplified model of the processing in the retina, where adaptation and contrast normalization take place, is connected to the nat- ural stimulus statistics. Analyzing the effect that retinal gain control has on later cortical processing, we propose a novel method to perform gain control in a data-driven way. Finally we show how models like those pre- sented here can be extended to capture whole visual scenes rather than just small image patches. By using a Markov random field approach we can model images of arbitrary size, while still being able to estimate the model parameters from the data.
Subject: tietojenkäsittelytiede
Rights: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.

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