Michelle Miller, Sue Yeon Chung, Ken D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Local divisive normalization provides a phenomenological description of many nonlinear response properties of neurons across visual cortical areas. To gain insight into the utility of this operation, we studied the effects on AlexNet of a local divisive normalization between features, with learned parameters. Developing features were arranged in a line topology, with the influence between features determined by an exponential function of the distance between them. We compared an AlexNet model with no normalization or with canonical normalizations (Batch, Group, Layer) to the same models with divisive normalization added. Divisive normalization always improved performance for models with batch or group or no normalization, generally by 1-2 percentage points, on both the CIFAR-100 and ImageNet databases. To gain insight into mechanisms underlying the improved performance, we examined several aspects of network representations. In the early layers both canonical and divisive normalizations reduced manifold capacities and increased average dimension of the individual categorical manifolds. In later layers the capacity was higher and manifold dimension lower for models roughly in order of their performance improvement. Examining the sparsity of activations across a given layer, divisive normalization layers increased sparsity, while the canonical normalization layers decreased it. Nonetheless, in the final layer, the sparseness of activity increased in the order of no normalization, divisive, combined, and canonical. We also investigated how the receptive fields (RFs) in the first convolutional layer (where RFs are most interpretable) change with normalization. Divisive normalization enhanced RF Fourier power at low wavelengths, while divisive+canonical enhanced power at mid (batch, group) or low (layer) wavelengths, compared to canonical alone or no normalization. In conclusion, divisive normalization enhances image recognition performance, most strongly when combined with canonical normalization, and in doing so it reduces manifold capacity and sparsity in early layers while increasing them in final layers, and increases low- or mid-wavelength power in the first-layer receptive fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2022
Event10th International Conference on Learning Representations, ICLR 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Apr 25 2022Apr 29 2022


Conference10th International Conference on Learning Representations, ICLR 2022
CityVirtual, Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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