Specificity and timescales of cortical adaptation as inferences about natural movie statistics

J Vis. 2016 Oct 1;16(13):1. doi: 10.1167/16.13.1.


Adaptation is a phenomenological umbrella term under which a variety of temporal contextual effects are grouped. Previous models have shown that some aspects of visual adaptation reflect optimal processing of dynamic visual inputs, suggesting that adaptation should be tuned to the properties of natural visual inputs. However, the link between natural dynamic inputs and adaptation is poorly understood. Here, we extend a previously developed Bayesian modeling framework for spatial contextual effects to the temporal domain. The model learns temporal statistical regularities of natural movies and links these statistics to adaptation in primary visual cortex via divisive normalization, a ubiquitous neural computation. In particular, the model divisively normalizes the present visual input by the past visual inputs only to the degree that these are inferred to be statistically dependent. We show that this flexible form of normalization reproduces classical findings on how brief adaptation affects neuronal selectivity. Furthermore, prior knowledge acquired by the Bayesian model from natural movies can be modified by prolonged exposure to novel visual stimuli. We show that this updating can explain classical results on contrast adaptation. We also simulate the recent finding that adaptation maintains population homeostasis, namely, a balanced level of activity across a population of neurons with different orientation preferences. Consistent with previous disparate observations, our work further clarifies the influence of stimulus-specific and neuronal-specific normalization signals in adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*