Sparse coding models of neural response in the primary visual cortex
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Sparse coding is an influential unsupervised learning approach proposed as a theoretical model of the encoding process in the primary visual cortex (V1). While sparse coding has been successful in explaining classical receptive field properties of simple cells, it was unclear whether it can account for more complex response properties in a variety of cell types. In this dissertation, we demonstrate that sparse coding and its variants are consistent with key aspects of neural response in V1, including many contextual and nonlinear effects, a number of inhibitory interneuron properties, as well as the variance and correlation distributions in the population response. The results suggest that important response properties in V1 can be interpreted as emergent effects of a neural population efficiently representing the statistical structures of natural scenes under resource constraints. Based on the models, we make predictions of the circuit structure and response properties in V1 that can be verified by future experiments.