January

Date: Thursday, January 19th
Time: 4pm
Location: HNB small conference room.
Speaker: Joaquin Rapela
Paper: Carandini M, Demb JB, Mante V, Tolhurst DJ, Dan Y, Olshausen BA, Gallant JL, Rust NC. Do we know what the visual system does? J. of Neur. 2005 Nov 25(46):10577-10597.

We can claim that we know what the visual system does once we can predict neural responses to arbitrary stimuli, including those seen in nature. In the early visual system, models based on one or more linear receptive fields hold promise to achieve this goal as long as the models include nonlinear mechanisms that control responsiveness, based on stimulus context and history, and take into account the nonlinearity of spike generation. These linear and nonlinear mechanisms might be the only essential determinants of the response, or alternatively, there may be additional fundamental determinants yet to be identified. Research is progressing with the goals of defining a single “standard model” for each stage of the visual pathway and testing the predictive power of these models on the responses to movies of natural scenes. These predictive models represent, at a given stage of the visual pathway, a compact description of visual computation. They would be an invaluable guide for understanding the underlying biophysical and anatomical mechanisms and relating neural responses to visual perception.

Date: Thursday, January 26th
Time: 4pm
Location: HNB small conference room.
Speaker: Xiwu Cao
Paper: Frazor RA, Geisler WS, Local luminance and contrast in natural images Vis. Res. 2006. In Press

Within natural images there is substantial spatial variation in both local contrast and local luminance. Understanding the statistics of these variations is important for understanding the dynamics of receptive field stimulation that occur under natural viewing conditions and for understanding the requirements for effective luminance and contrast gain control. Local luminance and contrast were measured in a large set of calibrated 12-bit gray-scale natural images, for a number of analysis patch sizes. For each image and patch size we measured the range of contrast, the range of luminance, the correlation in contrast and luminance as a function of the distance between patches, and the correlation between contrast and luminance within patches. The same analyses were also performed on hand segmented regions containing only “sky”, “ground”, “foliage”, or “backlit foliage”. Within the typical image, the 95% range (2.5-97.5 percentile) for both local luminance and local contrast is somewhat greater than a factor of 10. The correlation in contrast and the correlation in luminance diminish rapidly with distance, and the typical correlation between luminance and contrast within patches is small (e.g., -0.2 compared to -0.8 for 1/f noise). We show that eye movements are frequently large enough that there will be little correlation in the contrast or luminance on a receptive field from one fixation to the next, and thus rapid contrast and luminance gain control are essential. The low correlation between local luminance and contrast implies that efficient contrast gain control mechanisms can operate largely independently of luminance gain control mechanisms.