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Chris Klink, André Noest, Richard van Wezel; Amodal spatial facilitation resolves local ambiguities of kinetic depth. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):275. doi: 10.1167/9.8.275.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
On a local scale, visual information is massively ambiguous. Fortunately the brain is well equipped to integrate spatially and temporally separated visual information into a consistent more global conscious percept. Bistable kinetic depth cylinders are ambiguous with respect to their rotation direction causing conscious perception to alternate between possible perceptual interpretation in the absence of any physical changes in the stimulus composition. If two of these cylinders are presented coaxially their rotation directions couple as if the visual system shares spatially separated information in order to minimize the existing visual conflict stemming from the perceptual ambiguities. Here we present a neural network model of kinetic depth that explains this perceptual coupling with lateral facilitative connections between pools of neurons tuned for similar stimulus properties at different spatial locations. Based on the principle of amodal completion we suggest that these lateral connection are predominantly effective in the far field, connecting the ‘back’ sides of kinetic depth cylinders. A series of experiments further demonstrates that information sharing indeed occurs in the far and not the near depth field. It also makes clear that the spatial facilitation is based on a combination of depth and motion direction information and that the influence of the information sharing decreases as a function of the distance between stimuli. Our findings suggest that perceptual coupling of bistable stimuli reflects a more common mechanism related to occlusion processing. Facilitative connections may exist between similarly tuned far-field neurons, establishing an information sharing mechanism that resolves local ambiguities by relying on more global information.
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