Cortical Dynamics of Contextually-Cued Attentive Visual Learning and Search: Spatial and Object Evidence Accumulation
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How do humans use predictive contextual information to facilitate visual search? How are consistently paired scenic objects and positions learned and used to more efficiently guide search in familiar scenes? For example, a certain combination of objects can define a context for a kitchen and trigger a more efficient search for a typical object, such as a sink, in that context. A neural model, ARTSCENE Search, is developed to illustrate the neural mechanisms of such memory-based contextual learning and guidance, and to explain challenging behavioral data on positive/negative, spatial/object, and local/distant global cueing effects during visual search. The model proposes how global scene layout at a first glance rapidly forms a hypothesis about the target location. This hypothesis is then incrementally refined by enhancing target-like objects in space as a scene is scanned with saccadic eye movements. The model clarifies the functional roles of neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging data in visual search for a desired goal object. In particular, the model simulates the interactive dynamics of spatial and object contextual cueing in the cortical What and Where streams starting from early visual areas through medial temporal lobe to prefrontal cortex. After learning, model dorsolateral prefrontal cortical cells (area 46) prime possible target locations in posterior parietal cortex based on goalmodulated percepts of spatial scene gist represented in parahippocampal cortex, whereas model ventral prefrontal cortical cells (area 47/12) prime possible target object representations in inferior temporal cortex based on the history of viewed objects represented in perirhinal cortex. The model hereby predicts how the cortical What and Where streams cooperate during scene perception, learning, and memory to accumulate evidence over time to drive efficient visual search of familiar scenes.