Efficient coding transforms that reduce or remove statistical dependencies in natural sensory signals are important for both biology and engineering. In recent years, divisive normalization (DN) has been advocated as a simple and effective nonlinear efficient coding transform. In this work, we first elaborate on the theoretical justification for DN as an efficient coding transform. Specifically, we use the multivariate t model to represent several important statistical properties of natural sensory signals and show that DN approximates the optimal transforms that eliminate statistical dependencies in the multivariate t model. Second, we show that several forms of DN used in the literature are equivalent in their effects as efficient coding transforms. Third, we provide a quantitative evaluation of the overall dependency reduction performance of DN for both the multivariate t models and natural sensory signals. Finally, we find that statistical dependencies in the multivariate t model and natural sensory signals are increased by the DN transform with low-input dimensions. This implies that for DN to be an effective efficient coding transform, it has to pool over a sufficiently large number of inputs.

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