Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) were inspired by early findings in the study of biological vision. They have since become successful tools in computer vision and state-of-the-art models of both neural activity and behavior on visual tasks. This review highlights what, in the context of CNNs, it means to be a good model in computational neuroscience and the various ways models can provide insight. Specifically, it covers the origins of CNNs and the methods by which we validate them as models of biological vision. It then goes on to elaborate on what we can learn about biological vision by understanding and experimenting on CNNs and discusses emerging opportunities for the use of CNNs in vision research beyond basic object recognition.

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