Brightness Perception, Illusory Contours and Corticogeniculate Feedback
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A neural network model of early visual processing offers an explanation of brightness effects often associated with illusory contours. Top-down feedback from the model's analog of visual cortical complex cells to model lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) cells are used to enhance contrast at line ends and other areas of boundary discontinuity. The result is an increase in perceived brightness outside a dark line end, akin to what Kennedy (1979) termed "brightness buttons" in his analysis of visual illusions. When several lines form a suitable configuration, as in an Ehrenstein pattern, the perceptual effect of enhanced brightness can be quite strong. Model simulations show the generation of brightness buttons. With the LGN model circuitry embedded in a larger model of preattentive vision, simulations using complex inputs show the interaction of the brightness buttons with real and illusory contours.