Abstract

Two-dimensional spatial linear filters are constrained by general uncertainty relations that limit their attainable information resolution for orientation, spatial frequency, and two-dimensional (2D) spatial position. The theoretical lower limit for the joint entropy, or uncertainty, of these variables is achieved by an optimal 2D filter family whose spatial weighting functions are generated by exponentiated bivariate second-order polynomials with complex coefficients, the elliptic generalization of the one-dimensional elementary functions proposed in Gabor’s famous theory of communication [ J. Inst. Electr. Eng.93, 429 ( 1946)]. The set includes filters with various orientation bandwidths, spatial-frequency bandwidths, and spatial dimensions, favoring the extraction of various kinds of information from an image. Each such filter occupies an irreducible quantal volume (corresponding to an independent datum) in a four-dimensional information hyperspace whose axes are interpretable as 2D visual space, orientation, and spatial frequency, and thus such a filter set could subserve an optimally efficient sampling of these variables. Evidence is presented that the 2D receptive-field profiles of simple cells in mammalian visual cortex are well described by members of this optimal 2D filter family, and thus such visual neurons could be said to optimize the general uncertainty relations for joint 2D-spatial–2D-spectral information resolution. The variety of their receptive-field dimensions and orientation and spatial-frequency bandwidths, and the correlations among these, reveal several underlying constraints, particularly in width/length aspect ratio and principal axis organization, suggesting a polar division of labor in occupying the quantal volumes of information hyperspace. Such an ensemble of 2D neural receptive fields in visual cortex could locally embed coarse polar mappings of the orientation–frequency plane piecewise within the global retinotopic mapping of visual space, thus efficiently representing 2D spatial visual information by localized 2D spectral signatures.

© 1985 Optical Society of America

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