In this paper we propose a biologically inspired computational model based upon the human visual pathway in order to achieve a feature pair that is robust to changes in scene illumination variation. Here, we draw inspiration from the V4 area in the visual cortex and utilise an approach based upon both, the colour opponency and the spatially opponent centre surround receptive field mechanisms present in the human visual system. We do this making use of an optimisation setting which yields the optimal synaptic strength of the centre-surround neurons based on the colour discrimination for the double-opponent feature pair. This approach greatly reduces the effects of the illuminant in terms of discrimination of perceptually similar colours. We illustrate the utility of our approach for purposes of recognising perceptually similar colours, colour-based object recognition and skin detection under widely varying illumination conditions using bench marked data sets. We also compared our results to those yielded by a number of alternatives. © 2013 Springer-Verlag.
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