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 Visual-cortex simulator sees animals as humans do

This story is from the category The Brain
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Date posted: 03/04/2007

The human brain can differentiate between a tree branch blowing in the wind, and a fast-approaching car in less than 20 milliseconds. This ability can be crucial to our survival ? you don?t get out of the way of a nearby swaying branch, but you do get out of the way of a joyrider.

We may finally have software, which interprets moving images in the same way we do ? albeit at a much slower speed. After all, it is just software, not hardware.

Tomaso Poggio and colleagues at MIT in the US have built a computer model that appears to distinguish between animals and non-animals and faces and non-faces in the same way a human infant does ? using inbuilt brain connections standard to all, in the infant?s case.

The model contains a simulation of groups of neurons found in the human visual cortex and mimics the response of these neurons to visual features. Signals are passed from one group of neuron to the next in the same hierarchical fashion as in the brain.

The process starts with neurons associated with basic feature recognition and moves up to ones that perform more sophisticated recognition tasks. The first set of neurons identifies lines and edges, while the next identifies different ways in which lines and edges intersect. This escalation in complexity continues through to neurons that fire when a particular category of objects ? such as animals ? is recognised.

When shown 150 animal images, and 150 non-animal pictures, the software classified them about as accurately as human volunteers ? it just took much, much longer to do so.

The software even incorrectly classified the same images as human participants, strengthening evidence that the computer model is doing rapid visual recognition in the same way.

See the full Story via external site: www.newscientisttech.com

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