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Neuroconstructivism Volume TwoPerspectives and Prospects$
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Denis Mareschal, Sylvain Sirois, Gert Westermann, and Mark H. Johnson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198529934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529934.001.0001

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Constructing visual function through prenatal and postnatal learning

Constructing visual function through prenatal and postnatal learning

Chapter:
(p.13) Chapter 2 Constructing visual function through prenatal and postnatal learning
Source:
Neuroconstructivism Volume Two
Author(s):

James A. Bednar

Risto Miikkulainen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529934.003.0002

This chapter examines the extent to which visual representations can begin to emerge prenatally. This is a fascinating question because while the unborn child exists in a relatively rich auditory environment, its visual environment is very limited, consisting essentially of very coarse variation in luminosity levels. However, there is evidence of substantial spontaneous intrinsically generated neural activity in the visual cortex and elsewhere in the brain both pre- and postnatally. The chapter describes a neural network model that can explain the very rapid emergence of orientation feature detectors and face sensitive detectors after only very limited direct visual experience as a result of the intrinsic activity ‘setting the stage’ for the kinds of neural representations that are allowable and direct visual experience.

Keywords:   visual cortex, nature-nurture debate, visual system, ferret, eye development, face detection, HLISSOM model

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