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J Vis. 2002;2(3):243-55.

Facilitation of contrast detection by cross-oriented surround stimuli and its psychophysical mechanisms.

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School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Neurophysiological and psychophysical evidence indicates that neuronal surround modulation at cross-orientation (orthogonal to the preferred orientation of the classical receptive field) plays a key role in intermediate-level visual tasks, such as textural segregation and perceptual pop-out. What is missing is a psychophysical description of cross surround modulation at the spatial filter level in low-level vision. Moreover, neurophysiological evidence for how cross surround modulation is expressed at the neuronal level has been inconsistent. Here we report evidence for psychophysical facilitation of contrast detection by cross surround stimuli (orthogonal to the target orientation) that may provide insights into both the neurophysiology and psychophysics of cross surround modulation. We found that cross surround facilitation is a surround-contrast dependent effect mainly evident at low surround contrasts, and is narrowly tuned to spatial frequency and broadly tuned to orientation. To understand whether cross surround facilitation results from low-level processing of signal-to-noise enhancement or is due to uncertainty reduction at a higher-level decision stage, we (1) studied cross surround facilitation with an equivalent noise protocol, (2) estimated the changes in the slope of the psychometric function and the uncertainty parameter, M, and (3) measured cross surround effects at the dipper of the TvC function. The converging evidence suggests that cross surround facilitation of contrast detection is mainly a result of low-level signal-to-noise enhancement, and is little affected by uncertainty change.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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