Modeling Human Visual Motion Processing with Trainable Motion Energy Sensing and a Self-attention Network

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Zitang Sun, Yen-Ju Chen, Yung-Hao Yang, Shin'ya Nishida


Visual motion processing is essential for humans to perceive and interact with dynamic environments. Despite extensive research in cognitive neuroscience, image-computable models that can extract informative motion flow from natural scenes in a manner consistent with human visual processing have yet to be established. Meanwhile, recent advancements in computer vision (CV), propelled by deep learning, have led to significant progress in optical flow estimation, a task closely related to motion perception. Here we propose an image-computable model of human motion perception by bridging the gap between biological and CV models. Specifically, we introduce a novel two-stages approach that combines trainable motion energy sensing with a recurrent self-attention network for adaptive motion integration and segregation. This model architecture aims to capture the computations in V1-MT, the core structure for motion perception in the biological visual system, while providing the ability to derive informative motion flow for a wide range of stimuli, including complex natural scenes. In silico neurophysiology reveals that our model's unit responses are similar to mammalian neural recordings regarding motion pooling and speed tuning. The proposed model can also replicate human responses to a range of stimuli examined in past psychophysical studies. The experimental results on the Sintel benchmark demonstrate that our model predicts human responses better than the ground truth, whereas the state-of-the-art CV models show the opposite. Our study provides a computational architecture consistent with human visual motion processing, although the physiological correspondence may not be exact.