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J Vis. 2008 Jun 3;8(7):11.1-10. doi: 10.1167/8.7.11.

Selective mechanisms for simple contours revealed by compound adaptation.

Author information

1
Nottingham Visual Neuroscience, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, UK. sarah.hancock@nottingham.ac.uk

Abstract

Neurons in the early stages of visual processing are often thought of as edge detectors for different orientations. Here we investigate the existence of detectors for specific combinations of edges-detectors for specific curvatures. Previous attempts to demonstrate such detectors through aftereffects have ultimately been explained by adaptation to local orientation rather than curvature per se. To control for local aftereffects, we adapted one patch of visual field to two adjacent gratings presented as an obtuse contour (compound patch), and another patch to the same component gratings presented alternately (component patch). In this way both patches are adapted equally to the local orientation components of the stimuli, but only the compound patch is adapted to the global contour. Thus any difference in adaptation between the patches must result from the presence of the contour as a global figure. We found that perceived contrast of probe stimuli was not differentially altered in the two patches. However, apparent curvature of the probes was consistently greater in the compound patch than in the component patch. This effect was considerably reduced by increasing the spatial separation of the component gratings. The results are consistent with curvature detectors involved in the perceptual grouping of edges.

PMID:
19146244
PMCID:
PMC3249462
DOI:
10.1167/8.7.11
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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