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VS298: Visual Perception and its Neural Substrates

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Psychophysical studies have taught us much about the nature of visual perception, suggesting the existence of certain neural mechanisms and representations. On the other hand, neuroscience has taught us much about neural coding properties and about the signal transformations occurring at various stages of the system. And yet there are surprisingly few findings that link these branches of investigation. The goal of this seminar is to examine the literature from both sides, with an eye towards bridging the gap. The work of physiologists (e.g., Victor Lamme and Rüdiger von der Heydt) and psychophysicists (e.g., Ken Nakayama and Patrick Cavanaugh) will be studied in depth.

The seminar will meet weekly. Coursework will consist of presenting analyses of readings in class and/or participation in a collaborative computational modeling project to simulate the neural phenomena we will be studying.

Instructor: Karl Zipser


Enrollment information: VS 298 (section 4), 2 units
CCN: 66493

Meeting time and place: Friday 4-6, 560 Evans (Redwood Center conference room)

Email list:

  • Seminar mailing list vs298_unsolved_problems_in_vision@lists.berkeley.edu subscribe

Weekly schedule:

Date Topic/Reading
Friday, Jan. 23 Introduction
Friday, Feb. 13 The V1 classical receptive field
  • Schiller, P. H., Finlay, B. L., & Volman, S. F. (1976). Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. I. Spatiotemporal organization of receptive fields. Journal of neurophysiology, 39(6), 1288-1319. pdf
  • Schiller, P. H., Finlay, B. L., & Volman, S. F. (1976). Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. II. Orientation specificity and ocular dominance. Journal of neurophysiology, 39(6), 1320-1333. pdf
  • Schiller, P. H., Finlay, B. L., & Volman, S. F. (1976). Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. III. Spatial frequency. Journal of Neurophysiology, 39(6), 1334-1351. pdf
  • Finlay, B. L., Schiller, P. H., & Volman, S. F. (1976). Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. IV. Corticotectal cells. Journal of Neurophysiology, 39(6), 1352-1361. pdf
  • Schiller, P. H., Finlay, B. L., & Volman, S. F. (1976). Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. V. Multivariate statistical analyses and models. Journal of Neurophysiology, 39(6), 1362-1374. pdf
Friday, Feb. 20 Fine structure for parallel processing in visual cortex
  • Nassi, J. J., & Callaway, E. M. (2009). Parallel processing strategies of the primate visual system. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10(5), 360-372 pdf
  • Horton, J. C., & Adams, D. L. (2005). The cortical column: a structure without a function. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 360(1456), 837-862. pdf
  • Daniel L. Adams, D.L & Horton, J.C. (2009) Ocular Dominance Columns: Enigmas and Challenges. Neuroscientist 15: 62 pdf
Friday, Feb. 27 (class postponed till 6 March) The stable world problem
  • Stevens, J. K., Emerson, R. C., Gerstein, G. L., Kallos, T., Neufeld, G. R., Nichols, C. W., & Rosenquist, A. C. (1976). Paralysis of the awake human: visual perceptions. Vision research, 16(1), 93-IN9. pdf
  • Cha, O., & Chong, S. C. (2014). The background is remapped across saccades. Experimental brain research, 232(2), 609-618. pdf
  • Hall, N. J., & Colby, C. L. (2011). Remapping for visual stability. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1564), 528-539. pdf
  • Mathôt, S., & Theeuwes, J. (2011). Visual attention and stability. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1564), 516-527. pdf
  • Crespi, S., Biagi, L., d'Avossa, G., Burr, D. C., Tosetti, M., & Morrone, M. C. (2011). Spatiotopic coding of BOLD signal in human visual cortex depends on spatial attention. PLoS One, 6(7), e21661. pdf
  • Eye position modulates retinotopic responses in early visual areas: a bias for the straight-ahead direction pdf
Friday, 6 March [postponed till the next week] The stable world problem (see 27 Feb. for readings)
  • video video (Caution, this video can induce motion sickness. Fixate center white spot while watching).
  • Wurtz, R. H. (2008). Neuronal mechanisms of visual stability. Vision research, 48(20), 2070-2089. pdf
Friday, 20 March Today we will continue with Bob Wurtz's review on the stable visual world, getting into:
  • neurons with shifting receptive fields
  • a neural circuit for corollary discharge
  • saccadic suppression
  • trans-saccadic memory
  • attention

As last week, in the second hour we will discuss how to design (and actually implement here at Berkeley) experiments suggested by the material from the first hour.

Friday, 3 April We continue with stable world perception, focusing on Wurtz review article. I will report on my correspondence with Marc Sommer, who did a lot with shifting RFs in physiology experiments.
Friday, 10 April We will begin our focus on visual attention, with some neat videos to get things started.
Friday, 17 April Bruno Olshausen will lead discussion of dynamic routing and visual attention. This is a key research topic in Bruno's lab, so both past work and ideas for future modeling/experiments will be on the menu.

His 1993 publication: "A Neurobiological Model of Visual Attention and Invariant Pattern Recognition Based on Dynamic Routing of Information" is background ready. Please check out this classic paper.

Friday, 24 April Brent Parsons will present two papers for discussion:

Bridgeman, B. (2010). How the brain makes the world appear stable. i-Perception, 1(2), 69. pdf

Deubel, H., Koch, C., & Bridgeman, B. (2010). Landmarks facilitate visual space constancy across saccades and during fixation. Vision research, 50(2), 249-259. pdf

I will present a contrasting paper: Fracasso, A., Kaunitz, L., & Melcher, D. (2015). Saccade kinematics modulate perisaccadic perception. Journal of vision, 15(3), 4. pdf


Additional Materials

  • recent special issue of CurrOpinNeuro journal
  • Olshausen BA Olshausen (2013) Perception as an Inference Problem. pdf
  • Olshausen BA (2012) 20 years of learning about vision: Questions answered, questions unanswered, and questions not yet asked. In: 20 Years of Computational Neuroscience (Symposium of the CNS 2010 annual meeting) pdf
  • Kitaoka, A (2014) Color-dependent motion illusions in stationary images and their phenomenal dimorphism. Perception advance online publication pdf
  • O'Regan, J. K., & Noë, A. (2001). A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness. Behavioral and brain sciences, 24(05), 939-973.pdf
  • Bruno Olshausen lecture (1 July 2014) 20 Years of Learning About Vision: Questions Answered, Questions Unanswered, and Questions Not Yet Asked video
  • Solari, S. V. H., & Stoner, R. (2011). Cognitive consilience: primate non-primary neuroanatomical circuits underlying cognition. Frontiers in neuroanatomy, 5. pdf
  • Dyson, Freeman. The Case for Blunders. The New York Review of Books, 6 March 2014. pdf
  • Machine-Learning Maestro Michael Jordan on the Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts, 20 Oct 2014, Lee Gomes, IEEE Specturm link
  • Yann LeCunn responds to Mike Jordan's Spectrum interview link
  • Kravitz, D. J., Saleem, K. S., Baker, C. I., Ungerleider, L. G., & Mishkin, M. (2013). The ventral visual pathway: an expanded neural framework for the processing of object quality. Trends in cognitive sciences, 17(1), 26-49. pdf
  • Vinyals, O. et al. Show and Tell: A Neural Image Caption Generator. 2014 arXiv.1411.4555v1 pdf
  • Koch, C., & Tononi, G. (2011). A test for consciousness. Scientific American, 304(6), 44-47. [pdf https://www.dropbox.com/s/h2bo3swrjr1g1l1/A_Test_for_Consciousness.pdf?dl=0]
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