Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 2 (NIPS 1989)
Contour maps provide a general method for recognizing two-dimensional shapes. All but blank images give rise to such maps, and people are good at recognizing objects and shapes from them. The maps are encoded easily in long feature vectors that are suitable for recognition by an associative memory. These properties of contour maps suggest a role for them in early visual perception. The prevalence of direction-sensitive neurons in the visual cortex of mammals supports this view.