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How Sensitive Is the Human Visual System to the Local Statistics of Natural Images?




Several aspects of primate visual physiology have been identified as adaptations to local regularities of natural images. However, much less work has measured visual sensitivity to local natural image regularities. Most previous work focuses on global perception of large images and shows that observers are more sensitive to visual information when image properties resemble those of natural images. In this work we measure human sensitivity to local natural image regularities using stimuli generated by patch-based probabilistic natural image models that have been related to primate visual physiology. We find that human observers can learn to discriminate the statistical regularities of natural image patches from those represented by current natural image models after very few exposures and that discriminability depends on the degree of regularities captured by the model. The quick learning we observed suggests that the human visual system is biased for processing natural images, even at very fine spatial scales, and that it has a surprisingly large knowledge of the regularities in natural images, at least in comparison to the state-of-the-art statistical models of natural images.

Author(s): Gerhard, HE. and Wichmann, FA. and Bethge, M.
Journal: PLoS Computational Biology
Volume: 9
Number (issue): 1
Pages: e1002873
Year: 2013
Month: January
Day: 0

Department(s): Empirical Inference
Research Project(s): Psychophysics and Computational Models of Behaviour
Bibtex Type: Article (article)

Digital: 0
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002873


  title = {How Sensitive Is the Human Visual System to the Local Statistics of Natural Images?},
  author = {Gerhard, HE. and Wichmann, FA. and Bethge, M.},
  journal = {PLoS Computational Biology},
  volume = {9},
  number = {1},
  pages = {e1002873},
  month = jan,
  year = {2013},
  month_numeric = {1}