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Nat Neurosci. 1999 Jul;2(7):660-3.

Perception and neuronal coding of subjective contours in the owl.

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Lehrstuhl für Zoologie/Tierphysiologie, Institut für Biologie II, RWTH Aachen, Germany.


Robust form perception and underlying neuronal mechanisms require generalized representation of object boundaries, independent of how they are defined. One visual ability essential for form perception is reconstruction of contours absent from the retinal image. Here we show that barn owls perceive subjective contours defined by grating gaps and phase-shifted abutting gratings. Moreover, single-neuron recordings from visual forebrain (visual Wulst) of awake, behaving birds revealed a high proportion of neurons signaling such subjective contours, independent of local stimulus attributes. These data suggest that the visual Wulst is important in contour-based form perception and exhibits a functional complexity analogous to mammalian extrastriate cortex.

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