Junctions provide important cues in various perceptual tasks, such as the determination of occlusion relationships for figure-ground separation, transparency perception, and object recognition, among others. In computer vision, junctions are used in a number of tasks, like point matching for image tracking or correspondence analysis. We propose a biologically motivated approach to junction representation in which junctions are implicitly characterized by high activity for multiple orientations within a cortical hypercolumn. A local measure of circular variance is suggested to extract junction points from this distributed representation. Initial orientation measurements are often fragmented and noisy. A coherent contour representation can be generated by a model of V1 utilizing mechanisms of collinear long-range integration and recurrent interaction. In the model, local oriented contrast estimates that are consistent within a more global context are enhanced while inconsistent activities are suppressed. In a series of computational experiments, we compare junction detection based on the new recurrent model with a feedforward model of complex cells. We show that localization accuracy and positive correctness in the detection of generic junction configurations such as L- and T-junctions is improved by the recurrent long-range interaction. Further, receiver operating characteristics analysis is used to evaluate the detection performance on both synthetic and camera images, showing the superior performance of the new approach. Overall, we propose that nonlocal interactions implemented by known mechanisms within V1 play an important role in detecting higher-order features such as corners and junctions.

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