A biologically plausible network for the computation of orientation dominance

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Kritika Muralidharan, Nuno Vasconcelos


The determination of dominant orientation at a given image location is formulated as a decision-theoretic question. This leads to a novel measure for the dominance of a given orientation $\theta$, which is similar to that used by SIFT. It is then shown that the new measure can be computed with a network that implements the sequence of operations of the standard neurophysiological model of V1. The measure can thus be seen as a biologically plausible version of SIFT, and is denoted as bioSIFT. The network units are shown to exhibit trademark properties of V1 neurons, such as cross-orientation suppression, sparseness and independence. The connection between SIFT and biological vision provides a justification for the success of SIFT-like features and reinforces the importance of contrast normalization in computer vision. We illustrate this by replacing the Gabor units of an HMAX network with the new bioSIFT units. This is shown to lead to significant gains for classification tasks, leading to state-of-the-art performance among biologically inspired network models and performance competitive with the best non-biological object recognition systems.