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  Perceptual Sensitivity to Statistical Regularities in Natural Images

Gerhard, H., Wiecki, T., Wichmann, F., & Bethge, M. (2011). Perceptual Sensitivity to Statistical Regularities in Natural Images. Poster presented at 9th Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society, 33rd Göttingen Neurobiology Conference, Göttingen, Germany.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-4FBE-1 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-4FBF-0
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Gerhard, H1, 2, Author              
Wiecki, TV1, 2, Author              
Wichmann, FA2, 3, Author              
Bethge, M1, 2, Author              
1Research Group Computational Vision and Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497805              
2Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, Spemannstrasse 38, 72076 Tübingen, DE, ou_1497794              
3Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497795              


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 Abstract: A long standing hypothesis is that neural representations are adapted to environmental statistical regularities (Attneave 1954, Barlow 1959), yet the relation between the primate visual system’s functional properties and the statistical structure of natural images is still unknown. The central problem is that the high-dimensional space of natural images is difficult to model. While many statistical models of small image patches that have been suggested share certain neural response properties with the visual system (Atick 1990, Olshausen&Field 1996, Schwarz&Simoncelli 2001), it is unclear how informative they are about the functional properties of visual perception. Previously, we quantitatively evaluated how different models capture natural image statistics using average log-loss (e.g. Eichhorn et al, 2009). Here we assess human sensitivity to natural image structure by measuring how discriminable images synthesized by statistical models are from natural images. Our goal is to improve the quantitative description of human sensitivity to natural image regularities and evaluate various models’ relative efficacy in capturing perceptually relevant image structure. Methods We measured human perceptual thresholds to detect statistical deviations from natural images. The task was two alternative forced choice with feedback. On a trial, two textures were presented side-by-side for 3 seconds: one a tiling of image patches from the van Hateren photograph database, the other of model-synthesized images (Figure 1A). The task was to select the natural image texture. We measured sensitivity at 3 patch sizes (3x3, 4x4, & 5x5 pixels) for 7 models. Five were natural image models: a random filter model capturing only 2nd order pixel correlations (RND), the independent component analysis model (ICA), a spherically symmetric model (L2S), the Lp-spherical model (LpS), and the mixture of elliptically contoured distributions (MEC) with cluster number varied at 4 levels (k = 2, 4, 8, & 16). For MEC, we also used patch size 8x8. We also tested perceptual sensitivity to independent phase scrambling in the Fourier basis (IPS) and to global phase scrambling (GPS) which preserves all correlations between the phases and between the amplitudes but destroys statistical dependences between phases and amplitudes. For each type, we presented 30 different textures to 15 naïve subjects (1020 trials/subject). Results Figure 1B shows performance by patch size for each model. Low values indicate better model performance as the synthesized texture was harder to discriminate from natural. Surprisingly, subjects were significantly above chance in all cases except at patch size 3x3 for MEC. This shows that human observers are highly sensitive to local higher-order correlations as the models insufficiently reproduced natural image statistics for the visual system. Further, the psychometric functions’ ordering parallels nicely the models’ average log-loss ordering, beautifully so within MEC depending on cluster number, suggesting that the human visual system may have near perfect knowledge of natural image statistical regularities and that average log-loss is a useful model comparison measure in terms of perceptual relevance. Next, we will determine the features human observers use to discriminate the textures’ naturalness which can help improve statistical modeling of perceptually relevant natural image structure.


 Dates: 2011-03
 Publication Status: Published in print
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Title: 9th Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society, 33rd Göttingen Neurobiology Conference
Place of Event: Göttingen, Germany
Start-/End Date: 2011-03-23 - 2011-03-27

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Title: 9th Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society, 33rd Göttingen Neurobiology Conference
Source Genre: Proceedings
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 745 Identifier: -