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Publication Detail
Signal detection of salient visual features by the early visual pathway.
The role of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus in visual encoding remains an open question. Visual stimulation of the LGN produces two distinct types of responses: tonic and burst. It has been suggested that these two modes of response could serve to transmit high fidelity features of the visual world (tonic) or robustly detect salient features of the visual world (burst). Here, we use a combination of experimental and simulated LGN responses to natural scene movies to investigate the specificity of burst generation, and their role in signaling salient features of the visual scene. LGN responses to excitatory stimulus features were simulated with and without bursts and analyzed using signal detection theory. We find that bursts enhance detection of the onset of excitatory features as compared to purely tonic firing, and that algorithms inspired by this type of framework can enhance the transmission of visual information in situations with limited bandwidth.
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