Anticipation in the retina and the primary visual cortex : towards an integrated retino-cortical model for motion processing

Selma Souihel
Université Côte d'Azur, INRIA Sophia Antipolis, 2004 Route des Lucioles, 06902 Valbonne

The retina is able to perform complex tasks and general feature extraction, allowing the visual cortex to process visual stimuli with more efficiency. With regards to motion processing, an interesting and useful task performed by the retina is anticipation and trajectory extrapolation. Anticipation in the retina lies in the fact that the peak of retinal ganglion cells response is shifted, occurring before the object reaches the center of the receptive field, and can be explained by gain control mechanisms occurring at the level of bipolar and ganglion cells. Trajectory extrapolation on the other hand is related to a rise in the activity before the object enters the receptive field of the cell and is carried out through electrical synapses (gap junctions) connecting ganglion cells. This extrapolation has also been observed at the level of the primary visual cortex, where lateral propagation drives the activity ahead of the input, denoting predictive computations. Motion encoding in the retina also involves amacrine cells, which connect bipolar cells to either bipolar or ganglion cells, but their role has not been investigated yet in motion anticipation.

The first contribution of our work lies in the development of a generalized 2D model of the retina with three layers of ganglion cells : Fast OFF cells with gain control accounting for anticipation, direction selective cells connected via gap junctions, and Y-cells connected through amacrine cells, accounting for motion extrapolation.This model affords a mathematical analysis via dynamical systems theory and allows to outline the role of lateral connectivity (gap junctions and amacrine cells) in motion perception, anticipation and trajectory extrapolation. The second contribution is the use of the output of our retina model as an input to a mean field model of the primary visual cortex to reproduce motion anticipation as observed in VSDI recordings of V1. We present results of the integrated retino-cortical model for motion processing, and study how anticipation and extrapolation depend on stimuli parameters such as speed, shape and trajectory. Through the integrated retina-cortical model we emphasize the mechanisms defining motion anticipation, due to the cooperation of gain control and lateral connectivity at the level of the retina and lateral connectivity in the cortex. Moreover, we show how cortical nonlinearities due to a different gain between excitatory and inhibitory neurons shape the cortical response thus affecting object recognition.