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Vision Res. 1999 May;39(9):1641-56.

Temporal sensitivity of human luminance pattern mechanisms determined by masking with temporally modulated stimuli.

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SNL-B, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA 92186-5800, USA.


Target contrast thresholds were measured using vertical spatial Gabor targets in the presence of full field maskers of the same spatial frequency and orientation. In the first experiment both target and masker were 2 cpd. The target was modulated at a frequency of 1 or 10 Hz and the maskers varied in temporal frequency from 1 to 30 Hz and in contrast from 0.03 to 0.50. In the second experiment both target and masker had a spatial frequency of 1, 5 or 8 cpd. The target was modulated at 7.5 Hz and the same set of maskers was used as in the first experiment. The results are not consistent with a widely used model that is based on mechanisms in which excitation is summed linearly and the sum is transformed by an S-shaped nonlinear excitation-response function. A new model of human pattern vision mechanisms, which has excitatory and divisive inhibitory inputs, describes the results well. Parameters from the best fit of the new model to the results of the first experiment show that the 1 Hz and 10 Hz targets were detected by mechanisms with temporal low-pass and band-pass excitatory sensitivity, respectively. Fits to the second experiment suggest that at 1 cpd, the excitatory tuning of the detecting mechanism is band-pass. At 5 and 8 cpd, the mechanisms are excited by a broad range of temporal frequencies. Mechanism sensitivity to divisive inhibition depends on temporal frequency in the same general way as sensitivity to excitation. Mechanisms are more broadly tuned to divisive inhibition than to excitation, except when the target temporal frequency is high.

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