Probabilistic principles in unsupervised learning of visual structure: human data and a model

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 14 (NIPS 2001)

Bibtex Metadata Paper


Shimon Edelman, Benjamin Hiles, Hwajin Yang, Nathan Intrator


To find out how the representations of structured visual objects depend on the co-occurrence statistics of their constituents, we exposed subjects to a set of composite images with tight control exerted over (1) the condi- tional probabilities of the constituent fragments, and (2) the value of Bar- low’s criterion of “suspicious coincidence” (the ratio of joint probability to the product of marginals). We then compared the part verification re- sponse times for various probe/target combinations before and after the exposure. For composite probes, the speedup was much larger for tar- gets that contained pairs of fragments perfectly predictive of each other, compared to those that did not. This effect was modulated by the sig- nificance of their co-occurrence as estimated by Barlow’s criterion. For lone-fragment probes, the speedup in all conditions was generally lower than for composites. These results shed light on the brain’s strategies for unsupervised acquisition of structural information in vision.