An insect-inspired model for visual binding II: functional analysis and visual attention

Brandon D. Northcutt, Charles M. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We have developed a neural network model capable of performing visual binding inspired by neuronal circuitry in the optic glomeruli of flies: a brain area that lies just downstream of the optic lobes where early visual processing is performed. This visual binding model is able to detect objects in dynamic image sequences and bind together their respective characteristic visual features—such as color, motion, and orientation—by taking advantage of their common temporal fluctuations. Visual binding is represented in the form of an inhibitory weight matrix which learns over time which features originate from a given visual object. In the present work, we show that information represented implicitly in this weight matrix can be used to explicitly count the number of objects present in the visual image, to enumerate their specific visual characteristics, and even to create an enhanced image in which one particular object is emphasized over others, thus implementing a simple form of visual attention. Further, we present a detailed analysis which reveals the function and theoretical limitations of the visual binding network and in this context describe a novel network learning rule which is optimized for visual binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-227
Number of pages21
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Blind source separation
  • Neural networks
  • Object perception
  • Visual attention
  • Visual binding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • General Computer Science


Dive into the research topics of 'An insect-inspired model for visual binding II: functional analysis and visual attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this