Matthew Lawlor, Steven W. Zucker
Association field models have been used to explain human contour grouping performance and to explain the mean frequency of long-range horizontal connections across cortical columns in V1. However, association fields essentially depend on pairwise statistics of edges in natural scenes. We develop a spectral test of the sufficiency of pairwise statistics and show that there is significant higher-order structure. An analysis using a probabilistic spectral embedding reveals curvature-dependent components to the association field, and reveals a challenge for biological learning algorithms.