Neural Mechanisms Underlying Visual Object Recognition

TitleNeural Mechanisms Underlying Visual Object Recognition
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAfraz, A, Yamins, DLK, DiCarlo, JJ
JournalCold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology
Pagination99 - 107
Date Published2014

Invariant visual object recognition and the underlying neural representations are fundamental to higher-level human cognition. To understand these neural underpinnings, we combine human and monkey psychophysics, large-scale neurophysiology, neural perturbation methods, and computational modeling to construct falsifiable, predictive models that aim to fully account for the neural encoding and decoding processes that underlie visual object recognition. A predictive encoding model must minimally describe the transformation of the retinal image to population patterns of neural activity along the entire cortical ventral stream of visual processing and must accurately predict the responses to any retinal image. A predictive decoding model must minimally describe the transformation from those population patterns of neural activity to observed object recognition behavior (i.e., subject reports), and, given that population pattern of activity, it must accurately predict behavior for any object recognition task. To date, we have focused on core object recognition-a remarkable behavior that is accomplished with image viewing durations of <200 msec. Our work thus far reveals that the neural encoding process is reasonably well explained by a largely feed-forward, highly complex, multistaged nonlinear neural network-the current best neuronal simulation models predict approximately one-half of the relevant neuronal response variance across the highest levels of the ventral stream (areas V4 and IT). Remarkably, however, the decoding process from IT to behavior for all object recognition tasks tested thus far is very accurately predicted by simple direct linear conversion of the inferior temporal neural population state to behavior choice. We have recently examined the behavioral consequences of direct suppression of IT neural activity using pharmacological and optogenetic methods and find them to be well-explained by the same linear decoding model.

Short TitleCold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol