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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 15, Iss. 3 — Mar. 1, 1998
  • pp: 570–578

Dynamic contrast perception assessed by pattern masking

Richard W. Bowen and Huib de Ridder  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 15, Issue 3, pp. 570-578 (1998)

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The perceived contrast of a pulsed grating varies markedly with the exposure duration and spatial frequency of the grating. We studied dynamic changes in perceived grating contrast with a pattern-masking paradigm. We measured masking of a brief, localized test pattern (a D6 stimulus, 30 ms in duration) by fixed-contrast cosine grating patterns of varying duration (50–500 ms). The cosine mask pattern had spatial frequency of either 1 or 6 cycles per degree (cpd) at a contrast of 0.3. The D6 test pattern was centered on a light bar of the mask and was either positive peak contrast (same-polarity test and mask) or negative peak contrast (opposite-polarity test and mask). In Experiment 1, the test and mask had simultaneous onset. With a 6-cpd mask, the same-polarity test-threshold elevation versus mask-duration function increases monotonically. For a 1-cpd mask, the same-polarity threshold–mask-duration function is nonmonotonic, with peak masking effect produced by a grating pulse of 80–100 ms. These masking effects are closely congruent with known dynamic contrast effects. With negative tests, masking-duration functions are elevated from same-polarity functions and are essentially similar in shape for 1- and 6-cpd masks. The elevated thresholds suggest inhibitory interaction between ON and OFF pathways, with a similar time course across spatial frequency. In Experiment 2, the D6 test was delayed from mask onset by 33 ms. Positive contrasts only were employed. For 1-cpd stimuli, the delay of test greatly reduced masking at all mask durations and eliminated the nonmonotonic function. This suggests that for low-spatial-frequency patterns, perceived contrast is determined by an early peak component of the neural response. But for 6-cpd stimuli, masking of the delayed test was somewhat greater at all mask durations, consistent with a gradually increasing underlying neural response to the grating. Finally, in Experiment 3, same-polarity masking effects at both spatial frequencies were replicated with negative-contrast test and mask (OFF pathway mediation). This indicates that the ON and OFF pathways have similar response dynamics.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(050.2770) Diffraction and gratings : Gratings
(330.1800) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - contrast sensitivity
(330.5000) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - patterns and recognition

Original Manuscript: March 18, 1997
Revised Manuscript: September 30, 1997
Manuscript Accepted: October 10, 1997
Published: March 1, 1998

Richard W. Bowen and Huib de Ridder, "Dynamic contrast perception assessed by pattern masking," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 570-578 (1998)

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