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Vis Neurosci. 2000 May-Jun;17(3):421-36.

Response profiles to texture border patterns in area V1.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA.


Cells in area V1 of the anesthetized macaque monkey were stimulated with large texture patterns composed of homogeneous regions of line elements (texels) with different orientations. To human observers, such patterns appear to segregate, with the percept of sharp boundaries between texture regions. Our objective was to investigate whether the boundaries are reflected in the responses of single cells in V1. We measured responses to individual texels at different distances from the texture border. For each cell, patterns of optimally or orthogonally orientated texels were adjusted so that only one texel fell into the receptive field and all other texels fell in the visually unresponsive regions outside. In 37 out of 156 neurons tested (24%), texels immediately adjacent to a texture border evoked reliably larger responses than identical texels farther away from the border. In 17 neurons (11%), responses to texels near the border were relatively reduced. Border enhancement effects were generally stronger than border attenuation effects. When tested with four different border configurations (two global orientations and two edge polarities), many cells showed reliable effects for only one or two configurations, consistent with cells encoding information about the orientation of the texture border or its location with respect to the segmented region. Across the sample, enhancement effects were similar for all texture borders. Modulation by the texture surround was predominantly suppressive; even the responses near texture borders were smaller than those to a single line. We compared these results with the results of a popout test in which the line in the receptive field was surrounded by homogeneous texture fields either orthogonal or parallel to the center line. The patterns of response modulation and the temporal onset of differential responses were similar in the two tests, suggesting that the two perceptual phenomena are mediated by similar neural mechanisms.

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