Brightness Perception, Illusory Contours and Corticogeniculate Feedback
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A neural network model is developed to explain how visual thalamocortical interactions give rise to boundary percepts such as illusory contours and surface percepts such as filled-in brightnesses. Top-down feedback interactions are needed in addition to bottom-up feed-forward interactions to simulate these data. One feedback loop is modeled between lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and cortical area V1, and another within cortical areas V1 and V2. The first feedback loop realizes a matching process which enhances LGN cell activities that are consistent with those of active cortical cells, and suppresses LGN activities that are not. This corticogeniculate feedback, being endstopped and oriented, also enhances LGN ON cell activations at the ends of thin dark lines, thereby leading to enhanced cortical brightness percepts when the lines group into closed illusory contours. The second feedback loop generates boundary representations, including illusory contours, that coherently bind distributed cortical features together. Brightness percepts form within the surface representations through a diffusive filling-in process that is contained by resistive gating signals from the boundary representations. The model is used to simulate illusory contours and surface brightnesses induced by Ehrenstein disks, Kanizsa squares, Glass patterns, and cafe wall patterns in single contrast, reverse contrast, and mixed contrast configurations. These examples illustrate how boundary and surface mechanisms can generate percepts that are highly context-sensitive, induding how illusory contours can be amodally recognized without being seen, how model simple cells in V1 respond preferentially to luminance discontinuities using inputs from both LGN ON and OFF cells, how model bipole cells in V2 with two colinear receptive fields can help to complete curved illusory contours, how short-range simple cell groupings and long-range bipole cell groupings can sometimes generate different outcomes, and how model double opponent, filling-in and boundary segmentation mechanisms in V4 interact to generate surface brightness percepts in which filling-in of enhanced brightness and darkness can occur before the net brightness distribution is computed by double opponent interactions.