(1/3601) On the neural correlates of visual perception.
Neurological findings suggest that the human striate cortex (V1) is an indispensable component of a neural substratum subserving static achromatic form perception in its own right and not simply as a central distributor of retinally derived information to extrastriate visual areas. This view is further supported by physiological evidence in primates that the finest-grained conjoined representation of spatial detail and retinotopic localization that underlies phenomenal visual experience for local brightness discriminations is selectively represented at cortical levels by the activity of certain neurons in V1. However, at first glance, support for these ideas would appear to be undermined by incontrovertible neurological evidence (visual hemineglect and the simultanagnosias) and recent psychophysical results on 'crowding' that confirm that activation of neurons in V1 may, at times, be insufficient to generate a percept. Moreover, a recent proposal suggests that neural correlates of visual awareness must project directly to those in executive space, thus automatically excluding V1 from a related perceptual space because V1 lacks such direct projections. Both sets of concerns are, however, resolved within the context of adaptive resonance theories. Recursive loops, linking the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) through successive cortical visual areas to the temporal lobe by means of a series of ascending and descending pathways, provide a neuronal substratum at each level within a modular framework for mutually consistent descriptions of sensory data. At steady state, such networks obviate the necessity that neural correlates of visual experience project directly to those in executive space because a neural phenomenal perceptual space subserving form vision is continuously updated by information from an object recognition space equivalent to that destined to reach executive space. Within this framework, activity in V1 may engender percepts that accompany figure-ground segregations only when dynamic incongruities are resolved both within and between ascending and descending streams. Synchronous neuronal activity on a short timescale within and across cortical areas, proposed and sometimes observed as perceptual correlates, may also serve as a marker that a steady state has been achieved, which, in turn, may be a requirement for the longer time constants that accompany the emergence and stability of perceptual states compared to the faster dynamics of adapting networks and the still faster dynamics of individual action potentials. Finally, the same consensus of neuronal activity across ascending and descending pathways linking multiple cortical areas that in anatomic sequence subserve phenomenal visual experiences and object recognition may underlie the normal unity of conscious experience. (+info)
(2/3601) Transient and permanent deficits in motion perception after lesions of cortical areas MT and MST in the macaque monkey.
We examined the nature and the selectivity of the motion deficits produced by lesions of extrastriate areas MT and MST. Lesions were made by injecting ibotenic acid into the representation of the left visual field in two macaque monkeys. The monkeys discriminated two stimuli that differed either in stimulus direction or orientation. Direction and orientation discrimination were assessed by measuring thresholds with gratings and random-dots placed in the intact or lesioned visual fields. At the start of behavioral testing, we found pronounced, motion-specific deficits in thresholds for all types of moving stimuli, including pronounced elevations in contrast thresholds and in signal-to-noise thresholds measured with moving gratings, as well as deficits in direction range thresholds and motion coherence measured with random-dot stimuli. In addition, the accuracy of direction discrimination was reduced at smaller spatial displacements (i.e. step sizes), suggesting an increase in spatial scale of the residual directional mechanism. Subsequent improvements in thresholds were seen with all motion stimuli, as behavioral training progressed, and these improvements occurred only with extensive behavioral testing in the lesioned visual field. These improvements were particularly pronounced for stimuli not masked by noise. On the other hand, deficits in the ability to extract motion from noisy stimuli and in the accuracy of direction discrimination persisted despite extensive behavioral training. These results demonstrate the importance of areas MT and MST for the perception of motion direction, particularly in the presence of noise. In addition, they provide evidence for the importance of behavioral training for functional recovery after cortical lesions. The data also strongly support the idea of functional specialization of areas MT and MST for motion processing. (+info)
(3/3601) Psychophysics of remembering.
We present a new model of remembering in the context of conditional discrimination. For procedures such as delayed matching to sample, the effect of the sample stimuli at the time of remembering is represented by a pair of Thurstonian (normal) distributions of effective stimulus values. The critical assumption of the model is that, based on prior experience, each effective stimulus value is associated with a ratio of reinforcers obtained for previous correct choices of the comparison stimuli. That ratio determines the choice that is made on the basis of the matching law. The standard deviations of the distributions are assumed to increase with increasing retention-interval duration, and the distance between their means is assumed to be a function of other factors that influence overall difficulty of the discrimination. It is a behavioral model in that choice is determined by its reinforcement history. The model predicts that the biasing effects of the reinforcer differential increase with decreasing discriminability and with increasing retention-interval duration. Data from several conditions using a delayed matching-to-sample procedure with pigeons support the predictions. (+info)
(4/3601) Detection of vibration transmitted through an object grasped in the hand.
A tool or probe often functions as an extension of the hand, transmitting vibrations to the hand to produce a percept of the object contacting the tool or probe. This paper reports the psychophysical results of a combined psychophysical and neurophysiological study of the perception of vibration transmitted through a cylinder grasped in the hand. In the first part of the psychophysical study, 19 subjects grasped a cylinder, 32 mm diam, with an embedded motor that caused vibration parallel to the axis of the cylinder. The relationship between threshold and frequency was the traditional U-shaped function with a minimum between 150 and 200 Hz. Except a study by Bekesy in which subjects grasped a rod that vibrated parallel to the skin surface, thresholds above 20 Hz were lower and the slopes were steeper than any reported previously. Thresholds were <0.01 microm in some subjects. Data from both the psychophysical and the neurophysiological studies suggest that detection performance at frequencies >20 Hz was based on activity in Pacinian afferents. The extreme sensitivity compared with previous reports may have resulted from differences in contact area, direction of vibration, contact force, and the shape of the stimulus probe. The effects of each of these variables were studied. At 40 and 300 Hz (frequencies near the lower and upper end of the Pacinian range) thresholds were 9.8 and 18.5 dB (68 and 88%) lower, respectively, when subjects grasped the cylinder than when a 1-mm-diam probe vibrated perpendicular to the skin. These differences were accounted for as follows: 1) thresholds at a single fingerpad obtained with the large cylindrical surface were, on average, 20 and 60% lower, respectively, than thresholds with the punctate probe; 2) thresholds at the palm were, on average, 15 and 40% lower, respectively, than at the fingerpads; 3) thresholds obtained when the subjects grasped the cylinder averaged 40 and 20% less, respectively, than when the cylinder contacted only the palm; 4) thresholds with the cylinder contacting two fingers were 10 and 30% lower, respectively, than thresholds with the cylinder contacting a single finger; and 5) thresholds with vibration parallel to the skin surface were, on average, 10 and 30% lower, respectively, than thresholds with vibration perpendicular to the skin. Contact force, which was varied from 0.05 to 1.0 N, had no effect. (+info)
(5/3601) Effect of spatial attention on the responses of area MT neurons.
This study examines the influence of spatial attention on the responses of neurons in the middle temporal visual area (MT or V5) of extrastriate cortex. Two monkeys were trained to perform a direction-discrimination task. On each trial, two apertures of random-dot stimuli appeared simultaneously at two spatially separated locations; the monkeys were required to discriminate the direction of stimulus motion at one location while ignoring the stimulus at the other location. After extensive training, we recorded the responses of MT neurons in two configurations: 1) Both apertures placed "within" the neuron's receptive field (RF) and 2) one aperture covering the RF while the other was presented at a "remote" location. For each unit we compared the responses to identical stimulus displays when the monkey was instructed to attend to one or the other aperture. The responses of MT neurons were 8.7% stronger, on average, when the monkey attended to the spatial location that contained motion in the "preferred" direction. Attentional effects were equal, on average, in the within RF and remote configurations. The attentional modulations began approximately 300 ms after stimulus onset, gradually increased throughout the trial, and peaked near stimulus offset. An analysis of the neuronal responses on error trials suggests that the monkeys failed to attend to the appropriate spatial location on these trials. The relatively weak attentional effects that we observed contrast strikingly with recent results of Treue and Maunsell, who demonstrated very strong attentional modulations (median effect >80%) in MT in a task that shares many features with ours. Our results suggest that spatial attention alone is not sufficient to induce strong attentional effects in MT even when two competing motion stimuli appear within the RF of the recorded neuron. The difference between our results and those of Treue and Maunsell suggests that the magnitude of the attentional effects in MT may depend critically on how attention is directed to a particular stimulus and on the precise demands of the task. (+info)
(6/3601) Geometric representation of the mechanisms underlying human curvature detection.
Combined manipulation of blur, line length and contrast reveal two distinct processes involved in curvature detection. When line length is small relative to blur, thresholds are almost directly proportional to blur and independent of line length. When line length is large relative to blur thresholds are directly proportional to line length and independent of blur. The aspect ratio (line length/blur) of curved contours represents a scale-invariant metric which forms the decisive factor in determining curvature performance. (+info)
(7/3601) Chromatic masking in the (delta L/L, delta M/M) plane of cone-contrast space reveals only two detection mechanisms.
The post-receptoral mechanisms that mediate detection of stimuli in the (delta L/L, delta M/M) plane of color space were characterized using noise masking. Chromatic masking noises of different chromaticities and spatial configurations were used, and threshold contours for the detection of Gaussian and Gabor tests were measured. The results do not show masking that is narrowly-selective for the chromaticity of the noise. On the contrary, our findings suggest that detection of these tests is mediated only by an opponent chromatic mechanism (a red-green mechanism) and a non-opponent luminance mechanism. These results are not consistent with the hypothesis of multiple chromatic mechanisms mediating detection in this color plane . (+info)
(8/3601) Is the rod visual field temporally homogeneous?
Cone vision has been shown to be temporally inhomogeneous across the visual field. In the periphery, contrast sensitivity is lower for low temporal frequencies and higher for high temporal frequencies. Here we ask a similar question for rod vision at mesopic luminances. Isolation is obtained by testing a well documented rod monochromat. We show that the rod visual field exhibits only a modest degree of temporal inhomogeneity. (+info)