Precursors To Object Perception

The pictures in Fig. 1 each show a single object isolated against a uniform white background. Object perception is a difficult enough computational problem in this context, but in the real world we face the additional challenge of perceiving an object of interest amid a cluttered foreground and background of other objects, as illustrated in Fig. 2. In order to deal effectively with the enormous amount of information entering through the eyes, the visual system employs a divide-and-conquer strategy. First, the information coded initially as raw receptor firing rates is recoded in terms of various types of elementary features. The features are then analyzed to determine which combinations form single objects, and collections of features are pieced together to form representations of various aspects of the scene, including the object we want to identify. This section briefly describes some of what we know about the breakdown of visual information into features and the later regrouping of these features.

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