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The motion of an object (such as a wheel rotating) is seen as consistent independent of its position and size on the retina. Neurons in higher cortical visual areas respond to these global motion stimuli invariantly, but neurons in early cortical areas with small receptive fields cannot represent this motion, not only because of the aperture problem but also because they do not have invariant representations. In a unifying hypothesis with the design of the ventral cortical visual system, we propose that the dorsal visual system uses a hierarchical feedforward network architecture (V1, V2, MT, MSTd, parietal cortex) with training of the connections with a short-term memory trace associative synaptic modification rule to capture what is invariant at each stage. Simulations show that the proposal is computationally feasible, in that invariant representations of the motion flow fields produced by objects self-organize in the later layers of the architecture. The model produces invariant representations of the motion flow fields produced by global in-plane motion of an object, in-plane rotational motion, looming versus receding of the object, and object-based rotation about a principal axis. Thus, the dorsal and ventral visual systems may share some similar computational principles.

Original publication




Journal article


Neural Comput

Publication Date





139 - 169


Animals, Computer Simulation, Humans, Motion Perception, Neural Networks (Computer), Neurons, Recognition (Psychology), Visual Cortex