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Davis M. Glasser, Duje Tadin; Low-level mechanisms do not explain paradoxical motion percepts. Journal of Vision 2010;10(4):20. doi: 10.1167/10.4.20.
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Classic psychophysical studies have shown that increasing the size of low-contrast moving stimuli increases their discriminability, indicating spatial summation mechanisms. More recently, a number of studies have reported that for moderate and high contrasts, size increases yield substantial deteriorations of motion perception—a result described as psychophysical spatial suppression. While this result resembles known characteristics of suppressive center–surround neural mechanisms, a recent study (C. R. Aaen-Stockdale, B. Thompson, P. C. Huang, & R. F. Hess, 2009) argued that observed size-dependent changes in motion perception might be explained by differences in contrast sensitivity for stimuli of different sizes. Here, we tested this hypothesis using duration threshold measurements—an experimental approach used in several spatial suppression studies. The results replicated previous reports by demonstrating spatial suppression at a fixed, high contrast. Importantly, we observed strong spatial suppression even when stimuli were normalized relative to their contrast thresholds. While the exact mechanisms underlying spatial suppression still need to be adequately characterized, this study demonstrates that a low-level explanation proposed by Aaen-Stockdale et al. (2009) cannot account for spatial suppression results.
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