A Neural Model of Surface Perception: Lightness, Anchoring, and Filling-in
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This article develops a neural model of how the visual system processes natural images under variable illumination conditions to generate surface lightness percepts. Previous models have clarified how the brain can compute the relative contrast of images from variably illuminate scenes. How the brain determines an absolute lightness scale that "anchors" percepts of surface lightness to us the full dynamic range of neurons remains an unsolved problem. Lightness anchoring properties include articulation, insulation, configuration, and are effects. The model quantatively simulates these and other lightness data such as discounting the illuminant, the double brilliant illusion, lightness constancy and contrast, Mondrian contrast constancy, and the Craik-O'Brien-Cornsweet illusion. The model also clarifies the functional significance for lightness perception of anatomical and neurophysiological data, including gain control at retinal photoreceptors, and spatioal contrast adaptation at the negative feedback circuit between the inner segment of photoreceptors and interacting horizontal cells. The model retina can hereby adjust its sensitivity to input intensities ranging from dim moonlight to dazzling sunlight. A later model cortical processing stages, boundary representations gate the filling-in of surface lightness via long-range horizontal connections. Variants of this filling-in mechanism run 100-1000 times faster than diffusion mechanisms of previous biological filling-in models, and shows how filling-in can occur at realistic speeds. A new anchoring mechanism called the Blurred-Highest-Luminance-As-White (BHLAW) rule helps simulate how surface lightness becomes sensitive to the spatial scale of objects in a scene. The model is also able to process natural images under variable lighting conditions.