A large number of human psychophysical results have been successfully explained in recent years using Bayesian models. However, the neural implementation of such models remains largely unclear. In this article, we show that a network architecture commonly used to model the cerebral cortex can implement Bayesian inference for an arbitrary hidden Markov model. We illustrate the approach using an orientation discrimination task and a visual motion detection task. In the case of orientation discrimination, we show that the model network can infer the posterior distribution over orientations and correctly estimate stimulus orientation in the presence of significant noise. In the case of motion detection, we show that the resulting model network exhibits direction selectivity and correctly computes the posterior probabilities over motion direction and position. When used to solve the well-known random dots motion discrimination task, the model generates responses that mimic the activities of evidence-accumulating neurons in cortical areas LIP and FEF. The framework we introduce posits a new interpretation of cortical activities in terms of log posterior probabilities of stimuli occurring in the natural world.

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