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 orientationtuning 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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  1. D. H. Kelly, "Motion and vision. I. Stabilized images of stationary gratings," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1266–1274 (1979).
  2. D. H. Kelly, "Motion and vision. II. Stabilized spatio-temporal threshold surface," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1340–1349 (1979).
  3. D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, "Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).
  4. D. H. Kelly and H. S. Magnuski, "Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: circular targets," Vision Res. 15, 911–915 (1975).
  5. D. H. Kelly, "Pattern detection and the two-dimensional Fourier transform: flickering checkerboards and chromatic mechanisms," Vision Res. 16, 277–287 (1976).
  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).
  8. R. F. Quick, Jr., and R. N. Lucas, "Orientation selectivity in detection of chromatic gratings," Opt. Lett. 4, 306–308 (1979).
  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).
  12. D. H. Kelly, "Manipulation of two-dimensionally periodic stimulus patterns," Behav. Res. Methods Instrum. 11, 26–30 (1979).
  13. D. H. Kelly, "J0 stimulus patterns for visual research," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 50, 1115–1116 (1960).
  14. D. H. Kelly, "Frequency doubling in visual responses," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 1628–1633 (1966).
  15. M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, "Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation," Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).
  16. D. H. Kelly, "Sine waves and flicker fusion," Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).
  17. D. H. Kelly, "Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings," Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).

1981

D. H. Kelly, "Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings," Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).

1980

D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, "Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, "Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation," Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).

1979

1978

1977

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).

1976

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

1975

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

1968

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

1966

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).

1964

D. H. Kelly, "Sine waves and flicker fusion," Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).

1960

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).

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).

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).

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).

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).

D. H. Kelly and C. A. Burbeck, "Motion and vision. III. Stabilized pattern adaptation," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 1283–1289 (1980).

D. H. Kelly, "Motion and vision. II. Stabilized spatio-temporal threshold surface," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1340–1349 (1979).

D. H. Kelly, "Motion and vision. I. Stabilized images of stationary gratings," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1266–1274 (1979).

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

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

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

D. H. Kelly, "Frequency doubling in visual responses," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 1628–1633 (1966).

D. H. Kelly, "Sine waves and flicker fusion," Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).

D. H. Kelly, "J0 stimulus patterns for visual research," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 50, 1115–1116 (1960).

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).

Phillips, R.

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, "Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation," Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).

Quick, Jr., 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.

Behav. Res. Methods Instrum.

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

Doc. Ophthalmol.

D. H. Kelly, "Sine waves and flicker fusion," Doc. Ophthalmol. 18, 16–35 (1964).

J. Opt. Soc. Am.

J. Physiol.

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

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

Opt. Lett.

Science

D. H. Kelly, "Disappearance of stabilized chromatic gratings," Science 214, 1257–1258 (1981).

Vision Res.

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).

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

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

M. A. Georgeson and R. Phillips, "Angular selectivity of monocular rivalry: experiment and computer simulation," Vision Res. 20, 1007–1013 (1980).

Other

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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