A Neurodynamical Approach to Visual Attention

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

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Gustavo Deco, Josef Zihl


The psychophysical evidence for "selective attention" originates mainly from visual search experiments. In this work, we formulate a hierarchi(cid:173) cal system of interconnected modules consisting in populations of neu(cid:173) rons for modeling the underlying mechanisms involved in selective visual attention. We demonstrate that our neural system for visual search works across the visual field in parallel but due to the different intrinsic dynamics can show the two experimentally observed modes of visual attention, namely: the serial and the parallel search mode. In other words, neither explicit model of a focus of attention nor saliencies maps are used. The focus of attention appears as an emergent property of the dynamic behavior of the system. The neural population dynamics are handled in the framework of the mean-field approximation. Conse(cid:173) quently, the whole process can be expressed as a system of coupled dif(cid:173) ferential equations.