Information Factorization in Connectionist Models of Perception

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 12 (NIPS 1999)

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Javier Movellan, James McClelland


We examine a psychophysical law that describes the influence of stimulus and context on perception. According to this law choice probability ratios factorize into components independently con(cid:173) trolled by stimulus and context. It has been argued that this pat(cid:173) tern of results is incompatible with feedback models of perception. In this paper we examine this claim using neural network models defined via stochastic differential equations. We show that the law is related to a condition named channel separability and has little to do with the existence of feedback connections. In essence, chan(cid:173) nels are separable if they converge into the response units without direct lateral connections to other channels and if their sensors are not directly contaminated by external inputs to the other chan(cid:173) nels. Implications of the analysis for cognitive and computational neurosicence are discussed.