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J Vis. 2010 Nov 1;10(13):5. doi: 10.1167/10.13.5.

Global shape aftereffects have a local substrate: A tilt aftereffect field.

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School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth, WA, Australia.


Adaptation to prevailing stimuli is a ubiquitous property of the visual system that optimizes its dynamic range. The perceived difference in orientation of successively presented lines of similar orientation is exaggerated and the perceived shape of an object is influenced by previously experienced shapes. Change in perceived shape is assumed to arise through the adaptation of shape detectors. Here we consider an alternative: adaptation within a substrate of local oriented line detectors resulting in enhanced shape contrast in similar shapes. We show that the perceived shapes of a spatially coincident circle and Cartesian grid can be manipulated independently by adaptation to geometrically transformed copies of themselves. The same transformation was applied to the circle and the grid to create the adaptors; therefore, the specificity of the effects of adaptation demonstrates that the visual system adapts to the shape of objects rather than applying transformations to the reference frame of the visual field. The tilt aftereffect predicts local changes in perceived orientation, and fields of such local effects can often account for the global change in perceived shape of complex objects, including faces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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