Colloquium Cognitive Systems

Visual processing for context-dependent perceptual decisions

Dr. Hendrikje Nienborg (University of Tübingen)


Abstract. Visual perception reflects an interpretation of the visual information and is influenced by cognitive, behavioral and motivational context. These influences involve neurons at the earliest stages of the visual processing hierarchy. Moreover, these influences are thought to engage regulatory circuit elements such as feedback and neuromodulators, including serotonin. Nonetheless, it is largely unclear how the visual representation by neurons in the early and mid-level visual cortex is modulated by these regulatory circuit elements, and how these combined signals are linked to behavior. From the computational perspective, one hypothesized account is that of probabilistic inference, in which beliefs about the visual input modulate the visual responses. I will present results addressing these questions using a combination of psychophysics, pharmacological manipulations and multielectrode recordings across layers in multiple visual areas, and show evidence supporting this computational account. Our results have implications for basic neural mechanisms underlying decision-making and other cognitive processes such as attention.