Eeero Simoncelli

Title: Coding efficiency, neural populations, and perception.

Abstract: The mammalian brain is a metabolically expensive device, and evolutionary pressures have presumably driven it to make productive use of its resources. For early stages of sensory processing, this concept can be expressed more formally as an optimality principle: the brain maximizes the information that is encoded about relevant sensory variables, given available resources. I’ll describe a bit of the history of this topic, and an examples from my own group that predicts a direct relationship between the distribution of sensory attributes encountered in the environment, and the selectivity and response levels of neurons within a population that encodes those attributes, and direct limitations on the ability of the organism to discriminate different values of the encoded attribute.