Inferring figure-ground using a recurrent integrate-and-fire neural circuit

Several theories of early visual perception hypothesize neural circuits that are responsible for assigning ownership of an object’s occluding contour to a region which represents the “figure.” Previously, we have presented a Bayesian network model which integrates multiple cues and uses belief propagation to infer local figure-ground relationships along an object’s occluding contour. In this paper, we use a linear integrate-and-fire model to demonstrate how such inference mechanisms could be carried out in a biologically realistic neural circuit. The circuit maps the membrane potentials of individual neurons to log probabilities and uses recurrent connections to represent transition probabilities. The network’s “perception” of figure-ground is demonstrated for several examples, including perceptually ambiguous figures, and compared qualitatively and quantitatively with human psychophysics.

Revision received December 13 2004
Available Online
Accepted 13 January 2005
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