We present a cortical neural network model for visually guided navigation that has been embodied on a physical robot exploring a real-world environment. The model includes a rate based motion energy model for area V1, and a spiking neural network model for cortical area MT. The model generates a cortical representation of optic flow, determines the position of objects based on motion discontinuities, and combines these signals with the representation of a goal location to produce motor commands that successfully steer the robot around obstacles toward the goal. This study demonstrates how neural signals in a model of cortical area MT might provide sufficient motion information to steer a physical robot on human-like paths around obstacles in a real-world environment.
We present a two-stage model of visual area MT that we believe to be the first large-scale spiking network to demonstrate pattern direction selectivity. In this model, component-direction-selective (CDS) cells in MT linearly combine inputs from V1 cells that have spatiotemporal receptive fields according to the motion energy model of Simoncelli and Heeger. Pattern-direction-selective (PDS) cells in MT are constructed by pooling over MT CDS cells with a wide range of preferred directions. Responses of our model neurons are comparable to electrophysiological results for grating and plaid stimuli as well as speed tuning.