Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 2001. 24:1193–216Copyrightc
2001 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
Eero P Simoncelli
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Center for Neural Science, and Courant Instituteof Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, NY 10003;e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruno A Olshausen
Center for Neuroscience, and Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Davis, California 95616; e-mail: email@example.com
efﬁcient coding, redundancy reduction, independence, visual cortex
It has long been assumed that sensory neurons are adapted, throughboth evolutionary and developmental processes, to the statistical properties of thesignals to which they are exposed. Attneave (1954) and Barlow (1961) proposed thatinformation theory could provide a link between environmental statistics and neuralresponses through the concept of coding efﬁciency. Recent developments in statisticalmodeling, along with powerful computational tools, have enabled researchers to studymore sophisticated statistical models for visual images, to validate these models em-pirically against large sets of data, and to begin experimentally testing the efﬁcientcoding hypothesis for both individual neurons and populations of neurons.
Understanding the function of neurons and neural systems is a primary goal of systems neuroscience. The evolution and development of such systems is drivenby three fundamental components: (
) the tasks that the organism must perform,(
) the computational capabilities and limitations of neurons (this would includemetabolic and wiring constraints), and (
) the environment in which the organismlives. Theoretical studies and models of neural processing have been most heavilyinﬂuenced by the ﬁrst two. But the recent development of more powerful modelsof natural environments has led to increased interest in the role of the environmentin determining the structure of neural computations.The use of such ecological constraints is most clearly evident in sensory sys-tems, where it has long been assumed that neurons are adapted, at evolutionary,developmental,andbehavioraltimescales,tothesignalstowhichtheyareexposed.
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