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A Bayesian Model of Conditioned Perception
Alan A Stocker · Eero Simoncelli

Wed Dec 05 10:30 AM -- 10:40 AM (PST) @

We propose an extended probabilistic model for human perception. We argue that in many circumstances, human observers simultaneously evaluate sensory evidence under different hypotheses regarding the underlying physical process that might have generated the sensory information. Within this context, inference can be optimal if the observer weighs each hypothesis according to the correct belief in that hypothesis. But if the observer commits to a particular hypothesis, the belief in that hypothesis is converted into subjective certainty, and subsequent perceptual behavior is suboptimal, conditioned only on the chosen hypothesis. We demonstrate that this framework can explain psychophysical data of a recently reported decision-estimation experiment. The model well accounts for the data, predicting the same estimation bias as a consequence of the preceding decision step. The power of the framework is that it has no free parameters except the degree of the observer's uncertainty about its internal sensory representation. All other parameters are defined by the particular experiment which allows us to make quantitative predictions of human perception to two modifications of the original experiment.

Author Information

Alan A Stocker (University of Pennsylvania)
Eero Simoncelli (FlatIron Institute / New York University)

Eero P. Simoncelli received the B.S. degree in Physics in 1984 from Harvard University, studied applied mathematics at Cambridge University for a year and a half, and then received the M.S. degree in 1988 and the Ph.D. degree in 1993, both in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an Assistant Professor in the Computer and Information Science department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1993 until 1996. He moved to New York University in September of 1996, where he is currently a Professor in Neural Science, Mathematics, and Psychology. In August 2000, he became an Associate Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, under their new program in Computational Biology. In Fall 2020, he resigned his HHMI appointment to become the scientific director of the Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Flatiron Institute, of the Simons Foundation. His research interests span a wide range of topics in the representation and analysis of visual images, in both machine and biological systems.

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