Can Simple Cells Learn Curves? A Hebbian Model in a Structured Environment

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 2 (NIPS 1989)

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William Softky, Daniel Kammen


In the mammalian visual cortex, orientation-selective 'simple cells' which detect straight lines may be adapted to detect curved lines instead. We test a biologically plausible, Hebbian, single-neuron model, which learns oriented receptive fields upon exposure to un(cid:173) structured (noise) input and maintains orientation selectivity upon exposure to edges or bars of all orientations and positions. This model can also learn arc-shaped receptive fields upon exposure to an environment of only circular rings. Thus, new experiments which try to induce an abnormal (curved) receptive field may pro(cid:173) vide insight into the plasticity of simple cells. The model suggests that exposing cells to only a single spatial frequency may induce more striking spatial frequency and orientation dependent effects than heretofore observed.