Neuronal Adaptation for Sampling-Based Probabilistic Inference in Perceptual Bistability

author: David P Reichert, University of Edinburgh
published: Sept. 6, 2012,   recorded: December 2011,   views: 2734


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It has been argued that perceptual multistability reflects probabilistic inference performed by the brain when sensory input is ambiguous. Alternatively, more traditional explanations of multistability refer to low-level mechanisms such as neuronal adaptation. We employ a Deep Boltzmann Machine (DBM) model of cortical processing to demonstrate that these two different approaches can be combined in the same framework. Based on recent developments in machine learning, we show how neuronal adaptation can be understood as a mechanism that improves probabilistic, sampling-based inference. Using the ambiguous Necker cube image, we analyze the perceptual switching exhibited by the model. We also examine the influence of spatial attention, and explore how binocular rivalry can be modeled with the same approach. Our work joins earlier studies in demonstrating how the principles underlying DBMs relate to cortical processing, and offers novel perspectives on the neural implementation of approximate probabilistic inference in the brain.

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