Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Scientific methodology

In this section we briefly describe the scientific methods we use to achieve our research goals.

Adaptive image enhancement

Image enhancement is a natural type of image processing method to help low-vision people better understand visual scenes. An impressive number of techniques have been developed in the fields of computer vision and computer graphics to manipulate image content for a variety of applications. Some of these methods have a direct interest in the design of vision aid-systems. Only a few of them have been carefully evaluated with patients  [36], [49], [50], [41], [37]. Our objective is to further exploit and evaluate them with patients, considering dedicated use-cases, using virtual and augmented reality technology (Sec. 3.2.2). We consider not only classical brightness manipulations (e.g., equalization, gamma correction, tone mapping, edge enhancement, image decomposition and cartoonization) but also more sophisticated approaches which can change the geometric information of the scene to highlight the most relevant information (e.g., scene retargeting and seam carving). In addition, we investigate how image enhancements could be adapted to patients needs by relating tuning parameters to the patient pathology.

Virtual, mixed and augmented reality

Virtual, mixed and augmented reality technology (VR/MR/AR) is based on the idea of combining digital worlds with physical realities in different ways. It encompasses a wide spectrum of hardware. It is our conviction that this technology will play a major role in the domain of low-vision. Not only can this technology be useful to design novel vision aid-systems and rehabilitation programs, but also it has the potential to revolutionize how we study the behaviour of low-vision people (controlled condition, free head, eye tracking, possibilities for large scale studies). These projects require a constant interaction with psychophysicists and ophtalmologists so as to design our solutions based on patients needs and capabilities.

Biophysical modeling

Modeling in neuroscience has to cope with several competing objectives. On one hand, describing the biological realm as close as possible, and, on the other hand, providing tractable equations at least at the descriptive level (simulation, qualitative description) and, when possible, at the mathematical level (i.e., affording a rigorous description). These objectives are rarely achieved simultaneously and most of the time one has to make compromises. In the Biovision team we adopt the point of view of a physicist: try to capture the phenomenological description of a biophysical mechanism, removing irrelevant details in the description, and try to have a qualitative description of equations behaviour at least at the numerical simulation level, and, when possible, obtain analytical results. We insist on the quality of the model in predicting and proposing new experiments. This requires a constant interaction with neuroscientists so as to keep the model on the tracks, warning of too crude approximation, still trying to construct equations from canonical principles [1], [2], [6].

Methods from theoretical physics

Biophysical models mainly consist of differential equations (ODEs or PDEs) or integro-differential equations (neural fields). We study them using dynamical systems and bifurcation theory as well as techniques coming from nonlinear physics (amplitude equations, stability analysis, Lyapunov spectrum, correlation analysis, multi-scales methods) [23].

For the study of large scale populations (e.g., when studying population coding) we use methods coming from statistical physics. This branch of physics gave birth to mean-field methods as well statistical methods for large population analysis. We use both of them. Mean-field methods are applied for large scale activity in the retina and in the cortex [4], [8], [39].

For the study of retina population coding we use the so-called Gibbs distribution, initially introduced by Boltzmann and Gibbs. This concept includes, but is not limited to, maximum entropy models  [55] used by numerous authors in the context of the retina (see, e.g.,  [57], [59], [52], [51], [61]). These papers were restricted to a statistical description without memory neither causality: the time correlations between successive times is not considered. However, maximum entropy extends to spatio-temporal correlations as we have shown in, e.g., [2] [62], [43]. In this context, we study how the retina respond to transient stimuli (moving objects), i.e. how spatio-temporal correlations are modified when a moving object crosses the receptive fields of ganglion cells, taking into account the lateral connectivity due to amacrine cells [42], [20], [11], [21].