Beyond the feedforward sweep: feedback computations in the visual cortex

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020 Mar;1464(1):222-241. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14320. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


Visual perception involves the rapid formation of a coarse image representation at the onset of visual processing, which is iteratively refined by late computational processes. These early versus late time windows approximately map onto feedforward and feedback processes, respectively. State-of-the-art convolutional neural networks, the main engine behind recent machine vision successes, are feedforward architectures. Their successes and limitations provide critical information regarding which visual tasks can be solved by purely feedforward processes and which require feedback mechanisms. We provide an overview of recent work in cognitive neuroscience and machine vision that highlights the possible role of feedback processes for both visual recognition and beyond. We conclude by discussing important open questions for future research.

Keywords: categorization; deep learning; grouping; machine vision; neural networks; visual reasoning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Formative Feedback
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*