"We first identified an object that an IT neuron preferred, such as a sailboat, and another, less preferred object, maybe a teacup," graduate student Nuo Li, who worked on the study, said in the same news release. "When we presented objects at different locations in the monkey's peripheral vision, they would naturally move their eyes there. One location was a swap location. If a sailboat appeared there, it suddenly became a teacup by the time the eyes moved there. But a sailboat appearing in other locations remained unchanged."
After a while, the monkeys' IT neurons became confused. The sailboat neuron still preferred sailboats at all locations, except at the place where the images were swapped. Here, it learned to prefer teacups. The longer the manipulation, the greater the confusion.
"We were surprised by the strength of this neuronal learning, especially after only one or two hours of exposure," DiCarlo said. "Even in adulthood, it seems that the object-recognition system is constantly being retrained by natural experience. Considering that a person makes about 100 million eye movements per year, this mechanism could be fundamental to how we recognize objects so easily."
The researchers are now testing this idea using computer vision systems viewing real-world videos.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about eyes and vision.
-- Kevin McKeever
SOURCE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, news release, Sept. 11, 2008
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