A Physiologically Based Nonhomogeneous Poisson Counter Model of Visual Identification

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Abstract

A physiologically based nonhomogeneous Poisson counter model of visual identification is presented. The model was developed in the framework of a Theory of Visual Attention (Bundesen, 1990; Kyllingsbæk, Markussen, & Bundesen, 2012) and meant for modeling visual identification of objects that are mutually confusable and hard to see. The model assumes that the visual system’s initial sensory response consists in tentative visual categorizations, which are accumulated by leaky integration of both transient and sustained components comparable with those found in spike density patterns of early sensory neurons. The sensory response (tentative categorizations) feeds independent Poisson counters, each of which accumulates tentative object categorizations of a particular type to guide overt identification performance. We tested the model’s ability to predict the effect of stimulus duration on observed distributions of responses in a nonspeeded (pure accuracy) identification task with eight response alternatives. The time courses of correct and erroneous categorizations were well accounted for when the event-rates of competing Poisson counters were allowed to vary independently over time in a way that mimicked the dynamics of receptive field selectivity as found in neurophysiological studies. Furthermore, the initial sensory response yielded theoretical hazard rate functions that closely resembled empirically estimated ones. Finally, supplied with a Naka-Rushton type contrast gain control, the model provided an explanation for Bloch’s law.

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