A neural field model for color perception unifying assimilation and contrast

Anna Song
Ecole Normale Supérieure, DMA, 45 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France

We address the question of color-space interactions in the brain by proposing a neural field model of color perception with spatial context, for the visual area V1 of the cortex. Our framework reconciles two opposing perceptual phenomena, known as simultaneous contrast and chromatic assimilation. They have been previously shown to act synergistically, so that at some point in an image, the color seems perceptually more similar to that of the adjacent neighbors, while being more dissimilar from that of remote ones. Thus their combined effects are enhanced in the presence of a spatial pattern, and can be measured as larger shifts in color matching experiments. Our model supposes a hypercolumnar structure coding for colors in V1, and relies on the notion of color opponency introduced by Hering. The connectivity kernel of the neural field exploits the balance between attraction and repulsion in color and physical spaces, so as to reproduce the sign reversal in the influence of neighboring points. The color sensation at a point, defined from a steady state of the neural activities, is then extracted as a nonlinear percept conveyed by an assembly of neurons. It connects the cortical and perceptual levels, because we describe the search for a color match in asymmetric matching experiments as a mathematical projection of color sensations. We validate our color neural field alongside this color matching framework, by performing a multi-parameter regression to psychophysical data produced by Monnier & Shevell (2004, 2008), and ourselves. All the results show that we are able to explain the nonlinear behavior of shifts along one or two dimensions in color space, which cannot be done using a simple linear model.