Cortical Mechanisms for Surface Segmentation

  • Paul Sajda
  • Leif H. Finkel


Physiology has shown that the neural machinery of “early vision” is well suited for extracting edges and determining orientation of contours in the visual field. However, when looking at objects in a scene our perception is not dominated by edges and contours but rather by surfaces. Previous models have attributed surface segmentation to filling-in processes, typically based on diffusion. Though diffusion related mechanisms may be important for perceptual filling-in [4], it is unclear how such mechanisms would discriminate multiple, overlapping surfaces, as might result from occlusion or transparency. For the case of occlusion, surfaces exist on either side of a boundary and the problem is not to fill-in the surfaces but to determine which surface “owns” the boundary [1][3]. This problem of boundary “ownership” can also be considered a special case of the binding problem, with a surface being “bound” to a contour.


Illusory Contour Subjective Contour Cortical Process Surface Segmentation Global Consistency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    Finkel, L.H., and Sajda, P., “Object Discrimination based on Depth-from-Occlusion,” Neural Computation, Vol. 4, 1992.Google Scholar
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    Gilbert, C, “Horizontal integration and cortical dynamics,” Neuron, Vol 9, pp. 1–13, 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Nakayama, K., and Shimojo, S., “Toward a neural understanding of visual surface representation,” Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, Vol. LV, pp. 911–924, 1990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Ramachandran, V., and Gregory, L., “Perceptual filling in of artificially induced scotomas in human vision,” Science, pp. 699–702, 1992.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Sajda
    • 1
  • Leif H. Finkel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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