Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Efficient inverse graphics in biological face processing

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Science Advances  04 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 10, eaax5979
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5979

Abstract

Vision not only detects and recognizes objects, but performs rich inferences about the underlying scene structure that causes the patterns of light we see. Inverting generative models, or “analysis-by-synthesis”, presents a possible solution, but its mechanistic implementations have typically been too slow for online perception, and their mapping to neural circuits remains unclear. Here we present a neurally plausible efficient inverse graphics model and test it in the domain of face recognition. The model is based on a deep neural network that learns to invert a three-dimensional face graphics program in a single fast feedforward pass. It explains human behavior qualitatively and quantitatively, including the classic “hollow face” illusion, and it maps directly onto a specialized face-processing circuit in the primate brain. The model fits both behavioral and neural data better than state-of-the-art computer vision models, and suggests an interpretable reverse-engineering account of how the brain transforms images into percepts.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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