Abstract

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

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