Phase synchrony facilitates binding and segmentation of natural images in a coupled neural oscillator network

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Abstract

Synchronization has been suggested as a mechanism of binding distributed feature representations facilitating segmentation of visual stimuli. Here we investigate this concept based on unsupervised learning using natural visual stimuli. We simulate dual-variable neural oscillators with separate activation and phase variables. The binding of a set of neurons is coded by synchronized phase variables. The network of tangential synchronizing connections learned from the induced activations exhibits small-world properties and allows binding even over larger distances. We evaluate the resulting dynamic phase maps using segmentation masks labeled by human experts. Our simulation results show a continuously increasing phase synchrony between neurons within the labeled segmentation masks. The evaluation of the network dynamics shows that the synchrony between network nodes establishes a relational coding of the natural image inputs. This demonstrates that the concept of binding by synchrony is applicable in the context of unsupervised learning using natural visual stimuli. © 2014 Finger and König.

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Finger, H., & König, P. (2014). Phase synchrony facilitates binding and segmentation of natural images in a coupled neural oscillator network. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, (JAN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2013.00195

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