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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 73, Iss. 12 — Dec. 1, 1983
  • pp: 1684–1690

Spatial-frequency discrimination and detection: comparison of postadaptation thresholds

D. Regan and K. I. Beverley  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 73, Issue 12, pp. 1684-1690 (1983)

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We found that inspecting a sine-wave grating elevated threshold for spatial-frequency discrimination as it does for contrast detection, but discrimination threshold was maximally elevated at about twice the adapting frequency, where detection threshold was little affected; and detection threshold was maximally elevated at the adapting frequency, where discrimination threshold was not elevated at all. Orientation tuning was roughly similar for contrast and for discrimination threshold elevations; elevations fell by half at between 7 and 17 deg from the adapting orientation. We compared our findings with the predictions of three models of discrimination: (1) The data are inconsistent with the idea that the most strongly stimulated channels are the most important channels for discrimination. (2) With an additional assumption, the Hirsch—Hylton scaled-lattice model could account for our finding that discrimination threshold elevations are asymmetric. (3) With no additional assumptions, the idea that discriminati n is determined by the relative activities of multiple overlapping spatial-frequency channels or sizetuned neurons can account for our finding that discrimination thresholds are asymmetric. We propose a physiologically based discrimination model: Asymmetrically tuned cortical cells feed a ratio-tuned neural mechanism whose properties are formally analogous to those of ratio-tuned neurons that have recently been found in cat visual cortex. The linear relation between firing frequency and contrast can explain why discrimination threshold is substantially independent of contrast.

© 1983 Optical Society of America

D. Regan and K. I. Beverley, "Spatial-frequency discrimination and detection: comparison of postadaptation thresholds," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 73, 1684-1690 (1983)

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  1. F. W. Campbell and J. G. Robson, "Applications of Fourier analysis to the visibility of gratings," J. Physiol. 197, 551–566 (1968).
  2. C. B. Blakemore and F. W. Campbell, "On the existence of neurons in the human visual system selectively sensitive to the orientation and size of retinal image," J. Physiol. 203, 237–260 (1969).
  3. N. Graham, "Spatial frequency channels in human vision: detecting edges without edge detectors," in Visual Coding and Adaptability, C. S. Harris, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1980).
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  5. D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, "Critical problems in spatial vision," in Critical Reuiews in Bioengineering (CRC, Boca Raton, Fla., 1983) (to be published).
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  7. J. Hirsch and R. Hylton, "Limits of spatial frequency discrimination as evidence of neural interpolation," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 72, 1367–1374 (1982).
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  9. H. R. Wilson and D. J. Gelb, "A modified line element theory for spatial frequency and width discrimination," J. Opt. Soc. Am. (to be published).
  10. D. Regan, S. Bartol, T. J. Murray, and K. I. Beverley, "Spatial frequency discrimination in normal vision and in patients with multiple sclerosis," Brain 104, 735–754 (1982).
  11. D. Regan, R. Silver, and T. J. Murray, "Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in multiple sclerosis: hidden visual loss," Brain 100, 563–579 (1977).
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  17. Caveats include the following: (1) 1(o take the bandwidth of the adaptation effect as the excitatory bandwidth of a channel implies that selective adaptation is a desensitization that is due to prolonged excitation, and there is some evidence that inhibition is involved.4 (2) In any case, the angular bandwidth of the threshold elevation is not necessarily the same as the angular bandwidth of a channel, since different channels may determine threshold before and after adaptation.5
  18. This way of conceptually linking detection and discrimination is not restricted to spatial vision and has been applied to several visual modalities.19 In the context of color vision, Boynton20 discusses how the approach can be formulated either as a line element model, in which central neural processing has direct access to channel activities, or as an opponent process model, in which opponent mechanisms intervene between channels and subsequent processing. If they are both linear, the two formulations are equivalent. Historically, these two formulations of the relative activity approach have been influential and quite successful in color-vision research.20 More recently, this same concept has been invoked to account for acute discrimination between different orientations21 and acute discrimination of motion in depth.22
  19. D. Regan, "Visual information channeling in normal and disordered vision," Psychol. Rev. 89, 407–444 (1982).
  20. R. M. Boynton, Human Color Vision (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1979).
  21. G. Westheimer, K. Shimamura, and S. P. McKee, "Interference with line-orientation sensitivity," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 66, 332–338 (1976).
  22. K. I. Beverley and D. Regan, "The relation between discrimination and sensitivity in the perception of motion in depth," J. Physiol. 249, 387–398 (1975).
  23. H. Wilson, Department of Biophysics and Theoretical Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60637 (personal communication).
  24. M. Cynader and D. Regan, "Neurons in cat parastriate cortex sensitive to the direction of motion in three-dimensional space," J. Physiol. 274, 549–569 (1978).
  25. D. Regan and M. Cynader, "Neurons in cat visual cortex tuned to the direction of motion in depth: effect of stimulus speed," Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 22, 535–550 (1982).
  26. R. L. De Valois, D. G. Albrecht, and L. G. Thorell, "Cortical cells: bar and edge detectors, or spatial frequency filters?" in Frontiers in Visual Science, S. J. Cool and E. L. Smith, eds. (Springer, New York, 1978), pp. 544–556.
  27. S1 and S2 would be the excitatory center/inhibitory surround type of neuron26 for pairs of dark lines and inhibitory center/excitatory surround26 for bright line pairs.
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  29. V. A. Movshon and D. J. Tolhurst, "On the response linearity of cells in the cat visual cortex," J. Physiol. 249, 56–57P (1975).
  30. A. F. Dean, "The relationship between response amplitude and contrast for cat striate cortical neurones," J. Physiol. 318, 413–427 (1981).
  31. J. Hirsch and R. Hylton, Department of Ophthalmology, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. 06520 (personal communication).
  32. D. Regan, "Spatial frequency mechanisms in human vision: electrophysiological evidence," Vision Res. (to be published).
  33. H. Wilson, Department of Biophysics and Theoretical Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60637 (personal communication).
  34. H. R. Wilson, D. K. McFarlane, and G. C. Phillips, "Spatial tuning of orientation selective units estimated by oblique masking," Vision Res. (to be published).
  35. P. H. Schiller, B. L. Finlay, and S. F. Volman, "Quantitative studies of single-cell properties in monkey striate cortex. III. Spatial frequency," J. Neurophysiol. 39, 1334–1351 (1976).
  36. J. A. Movshon, I. D. Thompson, and D. J. Tolhurst, "Spatial and temporal contrast sensitivity of neurons in areas 17 and 18 of the cat's visual cortex," J. Physiol. 283, 101–120 (1978).
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  38. F. W. Campbell, G. F. Cooper, and C. Enroth-Cugell, "The spatial selectivity of the visual cells of the cat," J. Physiol. 203, 223–235 (1969).
  39. Presumably the most important among the neurons contributing to discrimination are those with the steepest slopes. However, it is not clear from published data on the spatial-frequency tuning of cortical cells whether the reason that neither symmetrically tuned neurons nor cells with steeper high- than low-frequency slopes seem to contribute importantly to discrimination is merely that these kinds of tuning curves are not associated with the steepest slopes.

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