Visual perception: mind and brain see eye to eye.
Recent functional imaging studies have identified neural activity that is closely associated with the perception of illusory motion. The mapping of the mind onto the bin appears to be one-to-one: activity in visual 'motion area' MT is highly correlated with perceptual experience. (+info)
Vision: modular analysis--or not?
It has commonly been assumed that the many separate areas of the visual system perform modular analyses, each restricted to a single attribute of the image. A recent paper advocates a radically different approach, where all areas in the hierarchy analyse all attributes of the image to extract perceptually relevant decisions. (+info)
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)
Competitive mechanisms subserve attention in macaque areas V2 and V4.
It is well established that attention modulates visual processing in extrastriate cortex. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. A consistent observation is that attention has its greatest impact on neuronal responses when multiple stimuli appear together within a cell's receptive field. One way to explain this is to assume that multiple stimuli activate competing populations of neurons and that attention biases this competition in favor of the attended stimulus. In the absence of competing stimuli, there is no competition to be resolved. Accordingly, attention has a more limited effect on the neuronal response to a single stimulus. To test this interpretation, we measured the responses of neurons in macaque areas V2 and V4 using a behavioral paradigm that allowed us to isolate automatic sensory processing mechanisms from attentional effects. First, we measured each cell's response to a single stimulus presented alone inside the receptive field or paired with a second receptive field stimulus, while the monkey attended to a location outside the receptive field. Adding the second stimulus typically caused the neuron's response to move toward the response that was elicited by the second stimulus alone. Then, we directed the monkey's attention to one element of the pair. This drove the neuron's response toward the response elicited when the attended stimulus appeared alone. These findings are consistent with the idea that attention biases competitive interactions among neurons, causing them to respond primarily to the attended stimulus. A quantitative neural model of attention is proposed to account for these results. (+info)
MST neuronal responses to heading direction during pursuit eye movements.
As you move through the environment, you see a radial pattern of visual motion with a focus of expansion (FOE) that indicates your heading direction. When self-movement is combined with smooth pursuit eye movements, the turning of the eye distorts the retinal image of the FOE but somehow you still can perceive heading. We studied neurons in the medial superior temporal area (MST) of monkey visual cortex, recording responses to FOE stimuli presented during fixation and smooth pursuit eye movements. Almost all neurons showed significant changes in their FOE selective responses during pursuit eye movements. However, the vector average of all the neuronal responses indicated the direction of the FOE during both fixation and pursuit. Furthermore, the amplitude of the net vector increased with increasing FOE eccentricity. We conclude that neuronal population encoding in MST might contribute to pursuit-tolerant heading perception. (+info)
Short-latency vergence eye movements induced by radial optic flow in humans: dependence on ambient vergence level.
Radial patterns of optic flow, such as those experienced by moving observers who look in the direction of heading, evoke vergence eye movements at short latency. We have investigated the dependence of these responses on the ambient vergence level. Human subjects faced a large tangent screen onto which two identical random-dot patterns were back-projected. A system of crossed polarizers ensured that each eye saw only one of the patterns, with mirror galvanometers to control the horizontal positions of the images and hence the vergence angle between the two eyes. After converging the subject's eyes at one of several distances ranging from 16.7 cm to infinity, both patterns were replaced with new ones (using a system of shutters and two additional projectors) so as to simulate the radial flow associated with a sudden 4% change in viewing distance with the focus of expansion/contraction imaged in or very near both foveas. Radial-flow steps induced transient vergence at latencies of 80-100 ms, expansions causing increases in convergence and contractions the converse. Based on the change in vergence 90-140 ms after the onset of the steps, responses were proportional to the preexisting vergence angle (and hence would be expected to be inversely proportional to viewing distance under normal conditions). We suggest that this property assists the observer who wants to fixate ahead while passing through a visually cluttered area (e.g., a forest) and so wants to avoid making vergence responses to the optic flow created by the nearby objects in the periphery. (+info)
Why and how is soft copy reading possible in clinical practice?
The properties of the human visual system (HVS) relevant to the diagnostic process are described after a brief introduction on the general problems and advantages of using soft copy for primary radiology interpretations. At various spatial and temporal frequencies the contrast sensitivity defines the spatial resolution of the eye-brain system and the sensitivity to flicker. The adaptation to the displayed radiological scene and the ambient illumination determine the dynamic range for the operation of the HVS. Although image display devices are determined mainly by state-of-the-art technology, analysis of the HVS may suggest technical characteristics for electronic displays that will help to optimize the display to the operation of the HVS. These include display size, spatial resolution, contrast resolution, luminance range, and noise, from which further consequences for the technical components of a monitor follow. It is emphasized that routine monitor quality control must be available in clinical practice. These image quality measures must be simple enough to be applied as part of the daily routine. These test instructions might also serve as elements of technical acceptance and constancy tests. (+info)
Visual motion analysis for pursuit eye movements in area MT of macaque monkeys.
We asked whether the dynamics of target motion are represented in visual area MT and how information about image velocity and acceleration might be extracted from the population responses in area MT for use in motor control. The time course of MT neuron responses was recorded in anesthetized macaque monkeys during target motions that covered the range of dynamics normally seen during smooth pursuit eye movements. When the target motion provided steps of target speed, MT neurons showed a continuum from purely tonic responses to those with large transient pulses of firing at the onset of motion. Cells with large transient responses for steps of target speed also had larger responses for smooth accelerations than for decelerations through the same range of target speeds. Condition-test experiments with pairs of 64 msec pulses of target speed revealed response attenuation at short interpulse intervals in cells with large transient responses. For sinusoidal modulation of target speed, MT neuron responses were strongly modulated for frequencies up to, but not higher than, 8 Hz. The phase of the responses was consistent with a 90 msec time delay between target velocity and firing rate. We created a model that reproduced the dynamic responses of MT cells using divisive gain control, used the model to visualize the population response in MT to individual stimuli, and devised weighted-averaging computations to reconstruct target speed and acceleration from the population response. Target speed could be reconstructed if each neuron's output was weighted according to its preferred speed. Target acceleration could be reconstructed if each neuron's output was weighted according to the product of preferred speed and a measure of the size of its transient response. (+info)