Abstract

When the thresholds for periodic spatial patterns containing two or more differently oriented components (e.g., crossed gratings) are measured under normal, unstabilized conditions, each component seems to be detected almost independently of the others if their angular orientations are sufficiently different. This psychophysical behavior has been attributed to anisotropic or orientation-tuned units in the visual cortex. Here we report that when the image of such a multicomponent pattern is stabilized on the retina, the independent-detection behavior vanishes. Under stabilized-image conditions, the contrast sensitivity is governed by the maximum local contrast at the retina. The number and relative contrast of individual components, even orthogonal ones, behave almost additively in making up the threshold contrast. We confirmed this conclusion with a variety of patterns that give orientation-tuning effects in unstabilized viewing. Controlled image motion (resembling the effect of the natural drifts of the eye) restores the independent-detection behavior in every case, as do other forms of temporal modulation (e.g., flicker or flash presentations). We infer (1) that orientation-tuned units in man do not respond to unchanging stimuli—they cannot function unless the pattern on the retina is temporally modulated, and (2) in the absence of temporal modulation, spatial patterns are detected by isotropic units of relatively low sensitivity.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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References

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  1. D. H. Kelly, “Motion and vision. I. Stabilized images of stationary gratings,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1266–1274 (1979).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  2. D. H. Kelly, “Motion and vision. II. Stabilized spatio-temporal threshold surface,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1340–1349 (1979).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  3. D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, “Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  4. D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets,” Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  5. D. H. Kelly, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: flickering checkerboards and chromatic mechanisms,” Vision Res. 16, 277–287 (1976).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  6. F. W. Campbell and J. J. Kulikowski, “Orientation selectivity of the human visual system,” J. Physiol. (London) 187, 437–445 (1966).
  7. C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  8. R. F. Quick and R. N. Lucas, “Orientation selectivity in detection of chromatic gratings,” Opt. Lett. 4, 306–308 (1979).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  9. D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel, “Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex,” J. Physiol. (London) 195, 215–243 (1968).
  10. Use of the method of adjustment to measure stabilized thresholds has been criticized on the grounds that it gives higher thresholds than those obtained by experimenter-controlled staircase methods. However, most of this discrepancy is not caused by criterion effects or other problems with the method of adjustment. In experimenter-controlled methods, the low thresholds are due to the transient stimulation that is introduced by even the most gradual (and hence time-consuming) stimulus presentations. The visual process is extremely sensitive to these transients and insensitive to steady stimulation. Thus with methods that force the subject to use all available information, his threshold will always be controlled by the transients. We have recently devised an experimenter-controlled method that does permit the subject to ignore transient information. As will be reported elsewhere, this produces stabilized thresholds that are quite close to the stabilized thresholds obtained by the method of adjustment.
  11. H. D. Crane and M. R. Clark, “Three-dimensional visual stimulus deflector,” Appl. Opt. 17, 706–714 (1978).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  12. D. H. Kelly, “Manipulation of two-dimensionally periodic stimulus patterns,” Behav. Res. Methods Instrum. 11, 26–30 (1979).
    [Crossref]
  13. D. H. Kelly, “J0stimulus patterns for visual research,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 50, 1115–1116 (1960).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  14. D. H. Kelly, “Frequency doubling in visual responses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 1628–1633 (1966).
    [Crossref]
  15. M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, “Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation,” Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  16. D. H. Kelly, “Sine waves and flicker fusion,” Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  17. D. H. Kelly, “Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings,” Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]

1981 (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings,” Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1980 (2)

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, “Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation,” Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, “Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1979 (4)

1978 (1)

1977 (1)

C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1976 (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: flickering checkerboards and chromatic mechanisms,” Vision Res. 16, 277–287 (1976).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1975 (1)

D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets,” Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1968 (1)

D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel, “Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex,” J. Physiol. (London) 195, 215–243 (1968).

1966 (2)

F. W. Campbell and J. J. Kulikowski, “Orientation selectivity of the human visual system,” J. Physiol. (London) 187, 437–445 (1966).

D. H. Kelly, “Frequency doubling in visual responses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 1628–1633 (1966).
[Crossref]

1964 (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Sine waves and flicker fusion,” Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

1960 (1)

Burbeck, C. A.

Campbell, F. W.

F. W. Campbell and J. J. Kulikowski, “Orientation selectivity of the human visual system,” J. Physiol. (London) 187, 437–445 (1966).

Carlson, C. R.

C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Clark, M. R.

Cohen, R. W.

C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Crane, H. D.

Georgeson, M. A.

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, “Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation,” Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Gorog, I.

C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Hubel, D. H.

D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel, “Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex,” J. Physiol. (London) 195, 215–243 (1968).

Kelly, D. H.

D. H. Kelly, “Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings,” Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, “Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “Motion and vision. II. Stabilized spatio-temporal threshold surface,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1340–1349 (1979).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “Motion and vision. I. Stabilized images of stationary gratings,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1266–1274 (1979).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “Manipulation of two-dimensionally periodic stimulus patterns,” Behav. Res. Methods Instrum. 11, 26–30 (1979).
[Crossref]

D. H. Kelly, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: flickering checkerboards and chromatic mechanisms,” Vision Res. 16, 277–287 (1976).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets,” Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “Frequency doubling in visual responses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 1628–1633 (1966).
[Crossref]

D. H. Kelly, “Sine waves and flicker fusion,” Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “J0stimulus patterns for visual research,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 50, 1115–1116 (1960).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Kulikowski, J. J.

F. W. Campbell and J. J. Kulikowski, “Orientation selectivity of the human visual system,” J. Physiol. (London) 187, 437–445 (1966).

Lucas, R. N.

Magnuski, H. S.

D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets,” Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Phillips, R.

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, “Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation,” Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Quick, R. F.

Wiesel, T. N.

D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel, “Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex,” J. Physiol. (London) 195, 215–243 (1968).

Appl. Opt. (1)

Behav. Res. Methods Instrum. (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Manipulation of two-dimensionally periodic stimulus patterns,” Behav. Res. Methods Instrum. 11, 26–30 (1979).
[Crossref]

Doc. Ophthalmol. (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Sine waves and flicker fusion,” Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

J. Opt. Soc. Am. (5)

J. Physiol. (London) (2)

F. W. Campbell and J. J. Kulikowski, “Orientation selectivity of the human visual system,” J. Physiol. (London) 187, 437–445 (1966).

D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel, “Receptive fields and functional architecture of monkey striate cortex,” J. Physiol. (London) 195, 215–243 (1968).

Opt. Lett. (1)

Science (1)

D. H. Kelly, “Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings,” Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Vision Res. (4)

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, “Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation,” Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

C. R. Carlson, R. W. Cohen, and I. Gorog, “Visual processing of simple two-dimensional sine-wave luminance gratings,” Vision Res. 17, 351–358 (1977).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets,” Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. H. Kelly, “Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: flickering checkerboards and chromatic mechanisms,” Vision Res. 16, 277–287 (1976).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Other (1)

Use of the method of adjustment to measure stabilized thresholds has been criticized on the grounds that it gives higher thresholds than those obtained by experimenter-controlled staircase methods. However, most of this discrepancy is not caused by criterion effects or other problems with the method of adjustment. In experimenter-controlled methods, the low thresholds are due to the transient stimulation that is introduced by even the most gradual (and hence time-consuming) stimulus presentations. The visual process is extremely sensitive to these transients and insensitive to steady stimulation. Thus with methods that force the subject to use all available information, his threshold will always be controlled by the transients. We have recently devised an experimenter-controlled method that does permit the subject to ignore transient information. As will be reported elsewhere, this produces stabilized thresholds that are quite close to the stabilized thresholds obtained by the method of adjustment.

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Figures (11)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Stimulus-generating and image-stabilizing apparatus. The subject views the CRT through the stimulus-deflecting mirrors of the stabilizer optical system, which is mounted on the eyetracker in the foreground. The eyetracker electronics, computer, and image processor are in the background. Not visible is the subject’s control box, which is used to call stimuli, make responses, and control the stabilization.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Stabilized (open symbols) and unstabilized (filled symbols) threshold contrasts for orthogonal (horizontal–vertical), 4 cy/deg, sine-wave gratings, normalized to the horizontal-grating and vertical-grating thresholds and plotted on linear scales. Vertical/horizontal-contrast ratios for the two-dimensional stimuli are 3:1, 3:2, 1:1, 2:3, and 1:3. Error bars represent plus and minus one standard deviation.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Same as Fig. 2, with 2-cy/deg gratings.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Same as Fig. 3, with another subject.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Log–log graph of thresholds for stabilized orthogonal gratings with equal horizontal and vertical components (squares), plotted as the contrast of one component as a function of spatial frequency. Stabilized thresholds for one-dimensional, vertical gratings (circles) are shown for comparison. With no image motion (open symbols), the vertical-grating thresholds are almost twice as great as the (single-component) thresholds for the two-dimensional grating. With horizontal drift of the retinal image (filled symbols), the horizontal component has negligible effect (because it remains stabilized), so the two patterns become equivalent stimuli. Error bars omitted for clarity (but see Fig. 6).

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

Stabilized (open symbols) and unstabilized (filled symbols) thresholds for one (vertical) component, for two equal-contrast components (90° apart), and for three equal-contrast components (60° apart). Spatial frequency, 4 cy/deg. (Standard deviations shown by the error bars also typify data in Fig. 5.)

Fig. 7
Fig. 7

Upper graph shows unstabilized contrast thresholds for vertical sine-wave gratings (squares) and circular J0 targets (circles) as a function of spatial frequency. Lower graph shows how the ratio of the two thresholds varies with spatial frequency.

Fig. 8
Fig. 8

Upper graph shows stabilized contrast thresholds for vertical sine-wave gratings (squares) and J0 targets (circles). With no image motion (open symbols), the ratio of the two curves is constant (lower graph). With horizontal drift of the retinal image (filled symbols), the results are similar to those in Fig. 7.

Fig. 9
Fig. 9

Contrast sensitivity for 3-cy/deg gratings, drifting horizontally and oriented at various angles to the motion, plotted in polar coordinates. Points on the left-hand side of the figure are merely reflections of the data on the right. Large circle drawn through the data is the theoretical prediction if the sensitivity depends only on temporal differentiation of the local stimulus.

Fig. 10
Fig. 10

Stabilized threshold contrasts for orthogonal (±45°), 4-cy/deg gratings, with the same contrast ratios and normalization procedure used in Figs. 24. Open symbols show results with no image motion; filled symbols, with horizontal drift at 0.12°/sec.

Fig. 11
Fig. 11

Unstabilized threshold contrasts for orthogonal (horizontal–vertical) 4-cy/deg gratings, with same contrast ratios and normalization procedure used in Figs. 24. All stimuli presented as flashes of 17-msec duration.