Integration of form and motion within a generative model of visual cortex

One of the challenges faced by the visual system is integrating cues within and across processing streams for inferring scene properties and structure. This is particularly apparent in the inference of object motion, where psychophysical experiments have shown that integration of motion signals, distributed across space, must also be integrated with form cues. This has led several to conclude that there exist mechanisms which enable form cues to ‘veto’ or completely suppress ambiguous motion signals. We describe a probabilistic approach which uses a generative network model for integrating form and motion cues using the machinery of belief propagation and Bayesian inference. We show, using computer simulations, that motion integration can be mediated via a local, probabilistic representation of contour ownership, which we have previously termed ‘direction of figure’. The uncertainty of this inferred form cue is used to modulate the covariance matrix of network nodes representing local motion estimates in the motion stream. We show with results for two sets of stimuli that the model does not completely suppress ambiguous cues, but instead integrates them in a way that is a function of their underlying uncertainty. The result is that the model can account for the continuum of bias seen for motion coherence and perceived object motion in psychophysical experiments.

Available Online
Accepted 1 June 2004
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