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We have studied the development of head-centered visual responses in an unsupervised self-organizing neural network model which was trained under ecological training conditions. Four independent spatio-temporal characteristics of the training stimuli were explored to investigate the feasibility of the self-organization under more ecological conditions. First, the number of head-centered visual training locations was varied over a broad range. Model performance improved as the number of training locations approached the continuous sampling of head-centered space. Second, the model depended on periods of time where visual targets remained stationary in head-centered space while it performed saccades around the scene, and the severity of this constraint was explored by introducing increasing levels of random eye movement and stimulus dynamics. Model performance was robust over a range of randomization. Third, the model was trained on visual scenes where multiple simultaneous targets where always visible. Model self-organization was successful, despite never being exposed to a visual target in isolation. Fourth, the duration of fixations during training were made stochastic. With suitable changes to the learning rule, it self-organized successfully. These findings suggest that the fundamental learning mechanism upon which the model rests is robust to the many forms of stimulus variability under ecological training conditions.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





116 - 136


Ecological Validity, Head-Centered Response, Neural Network, Self-Organization, Models, Neurological, Neural Networks (Computer), Visual Perception