Visual motion perception as online hierarchical inference

TitleVisual motion perception as online hierarchical inference
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBill, J, Gershman, SJ, Drugowitsch, J
JournalNature Communications
Date Published12/2022

Identifying the structure of motion relations in the environment is critical for navigation, tracking, prediction, and pursuit. Yet, little is known about the mental and neural computations that allow the visual system to infer this structure online from a volatile stream of visual information. We propose online hierarchical Bayesian inference as a principled solution for how the brain might solve this complex perceptual task. We derive an online Expectation-Maximization algorithm that explains human percepts qualitatively and quantitatively for a diverse set of stimuli, covering classical psychophysics experiments, ambiguous motion scenes, and illusory motion displays. We thereby identify normative explanations for the origin of human motion structure perception and make testable predictions for future psychophysics experiments. The proposed online hierarchical inference model furthermore affords a neural network implementation which shares properties with motion-sensitive cortical areas and motivates targeted experiments to reveal the neural representations of latent structure.

Short TitleNat Commun

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