The Past, Present and Future of Feature Detectors

  • H. B. Barlow
Part of the Lecture Notes in Biomathematics book series (LNBM, volume 44)


If one knows where ideas have come from and how a subject has developed one gets a much clearer view of which direction you are pointing and what the next problems may be. I shall therefore start by looking at the past history of feature detectors, then I shall talk a bit about my present work, and I shall conclude with a brief guess at the future.


Receptive Field Retinal Ganglion Cell Feature Detector Tolerance Range Sensory Pathway 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adrian, E.D. (1947) The physical background of perception. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Barlow, H.B. (1953) Summation and inhibition in the frog’s retina. J. Physiol. 119, 69–88.Google Scholar
  3. Barlow, H.B. (1977) Retinal and central factors in human vision limited by noise. In: Vertebrate Photoreception (Eds Barlow, H.B. and Fatt, P.) Ch. 19, pp 337–358. Academic Press: LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Barlow, H.B. (1978) The efficiency of detecting changes of density in random dot patterns. Vision Research 18, 637–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barlow, H.B., Hill, R.M. and Levick, W.R. (1964) Retinal ganglion cells responding selectively to direction and speed of image motion in the rabbit. J. Physiol., 173, 377–407.Google Scholar
  6. Barlow, H.B., Blakemore, C. and Pettigrew, J.D. (1967) The neural mechanism of binocular depth discrimination. J. Physiol. 193, 327–342.Google Scholar
  7. Barlow, H.B. and Reeves, B.C. (1979) The versatility and absolute efficiency of detecting mirror symmetry in random dot displays. Vision Research, 19, 783–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fulton, J.F. (1949) Physiology of the nervous system (3rd edition). Oxford University Press: New York.Google Scholar
  9. Hartline, H.K. (1938) The response of single optic nerve fibres of the vertebrate eye to illumination of the retina. Am. J. Physiol. 121, 400–415.Google Scholar
  10. Hartline, H.K. (1940b) The effects of spatial summation in the retina on the excitation of the fibers of the optic nerve. Am. J. Physiol. 130, 700–711.Google Scholar
  11. Hubel, D.H. and Wiesel, T.N. (1959) Receptive fields of single neurones in the cat’s striate cortex. J. Physiol. 148, 574–591.Google Scholar
  12. Hubel, D.H. and Wiesel, T.N. (1962) Receptive fields, binocular interaction and functional architecture in the cat’s visual cortex. J. Physiol. 160, 106–154.Google Scholar
  13. Hubel, D.H., Wiesel, T.N. and Stryker, M.P. (1978) Anatomical demonstration of orientation columns in Macaque monkey. J. comp. Neirol. 177, 361–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ingle, D. (1968) Visual releasers of prey-catching behavior in frogs and toads. Brain, Behaviour and Evolution 1, 500–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lettvin, J.Y., Maturana, H.R., McCulloch, W.S. and Pitts, W.H. (1959) What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain. Proc. Inst. Rad. Engrg. 47, 1940–1051.Google Scholar
  16. Levick, W.R. (1967) Receptive fields and trigger features of ganglion cells in the visual streak of the rabbit’s retina. J. Physil. 188, 285–305.Google Scholar
  17. Lorenz, K.Z. (1952) King Solomon’s Ring. Crowell.Google Scholar
  18. Marshall, W.H., Woolsey, C.N. and Bond, P. (1941) Observations on cortical somatic sensory mechanisms of cat and monkey. J. Neurophysiol. 4, 1–24.Google Scholar
  19. Maturana, H.R. and Frenk, S. (1963) Directional movement and horizontal detectors in pigeon retina. Science 142, 977–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rosenblatt, F. (1959) Two theorems of statistical separability in the perception. Proceedings of a Symposium on the Mechanization of Thought Processes. pp 421–456. HMSO: London.Google Scholar
  21. Sakitt, B. (1972) Counting every quantum. J. Physiol. 223, 131–150.Google Scholar
  22. Selfridge, O.G. (1959) Pandemonium: a paradigm for learning. Proceedings of a Symposium on the Mechanization of Thought Processes held at the National Physical Laboratory. HMSO: London.Google Scholar
  23. Tinbergen, N. (1951) The Study of Instinct. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  24. Waterman, T.H. and Wiersma, C.A.G. (1963) Electrical responses in decorpod crustacean visual systems. J. Cell. Comp. Physiol. 61, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Waterman, T.H., Wiersma, C.A.G. and Bush, B.M.H. (1964) Afferent visual responses in the optic nerve of the crab Podophthalmus. J.Cell. Comp. Physiol. 63, 135–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. B. Barlow
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiological LaboratoryCambridgeEngland

Personalised recommendations