Self-organization of orientation sensitive cells in the striate cortex
A nerve net model for the visual cortex of higher vertebrates is presented. A simple learning procedure is shown to be sufficient for the organization of some essential functional properties of single units. The rather special assumptions usually made in the literature regarding preorganization of the visual cortex are thereby avoided. The model consists of 338 neurones forming a sheet analogous to the cortex. The neurones are connected randomly to a “retina” of 19 cells. Nine different stimuli in the form of light bars were applied. The afferent connections were modified according to a mechanism of synaptic training. After twenty presentations of all the stimuli individual cortical neurones became sensitive to only one orientation. Neurones with the same or similar orientation sensitivity tended to appear in clusters, which are analogous to cortical columns. The system was shown to be insensitive to a background of disturbing input excitations during learning. After learning it was able to repair small defects introduced into the wiring and was relatively insensitive to stimuli not used during training.