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Neural Netw. 2009 Jul-Aug;22(5-6):707-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2009.06.047. Epub 2009 Jul 7.

A neural model of selective attention and object segmentation in the visual scene: an approach based on partial synchronization and star-like architecture of connections.

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School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK.


A brain-inspired computational system is presented that allows sequential selection and processing of objects from a visual scene. The system is comprised of three modules. The selective attention module is designed as a network of spiking neurons of the Hodgkin-Huxley type with star-like connections between the central unit and peripheral elements. The attention focus is represented by those peripheral neurons that generate spikes synchronously with the central neuron while the activity of other peripheral neurons is suppressed. Such dynamics corresponds to the partial synchronization mode. It is shown that peripheral neurons with higher firing rates are preferentially drawn into partial synchronization. We show that local excitatory connections facilitate synchronization, while local inhibitory connections help distinguishing between two groups of peripheral neurons with similar intrinsic frequencies. The module automatically scans a visual scene and sequentially selects regions of interest for detailed processing and object segmentation. The contour extraction module implements standard image processing algorithms for contour extraction. The module computes raw contours of objects accompanied by noise and some spurious inclusions. At the next stage, the object segmentation module designed as a network of phase oscillators is used for precise determination of object boundaries and noise suppression. This module has a star-like architecture of connections. The segmented object is represented by a group of peripheral oscillators working in the regime of partial synchronization with the central oscillator. The functioning of each module is illustrated by an example of processing of the visual scene taken from a visual stream of a robot camera.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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