Synchronized Oscillations During Cooperative Feature Linking in a Cortical Model of Visual Perception
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A neural network model of synchronized oscillator activity in visual cortex is presented in order to account for recent neurophysiological findings that such synchronization may reflect global properties of the stimulus. In these recent experiments, it was reported that synchronization of oscillatory firing responses to moving bar stimuli occurred not only for nearby neurons, but also occurred between neurons separated by several cortical columns (several mm of cortex) when these neurons shared some receptive field preferences specific to the stimuli. These results were obtained not only for single bar stimuli but also across two disconnected, but colinear, bars moving in the same direction. Our model and computer simulations obtain these synchrony results across both single and double bar stimuli. For the double bar case, synchronous oscillations are induced in the region between the bars, but no oscillations are induced in the regions beyond the stimuli. These results were achieved with cellular units that exhibit limit cycle oscillations for a robust range of input values, but which approach an equilibrium state when undriven. Single and double bar synchronization of these oscillators was achieved by different, but formally related, models of preattentive visual boundary segmentation and attentive visual object recognition, as well as nearest-neighbor and randomly coupled models. In preattentive visual segmentation, synchronous oscillations may reflect the binding of local feature detectors into a globally coherent grouping. In object recognition, synchronous oscillations may occur during an attentive resonant state that triggers new learning. These modelling results support earlier theoretical predictions of synchronous visual cortical oscillations and demonstrate the robustness of the mechanisms capable of generating synchrony.