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Kathy T. Mullen, William H. A. Beaudot, Iliya V. Ivanov; Evidence that global processing does not limit thresholds for RF shape discrimination. Journal of Vision 2011;11(3):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.3.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In studies of shape processing, a crucial distinction is made between the global stages, which integrate across features to define shape, and earlier stages that encode individual components. We investigate whether shape discrimination thresholds for radial frequency (RF) patterns are limited at this global stage or whether the information in individual components supports threshold. We use achromatic and chromatic (L/M- and S-cone opponent) radial frequency (RF) patterns of different contour thicknesses (0.75–6 cpd). First, we show using sections of an RF4 that shape discrimination thresholds are invariant with cycle number from 1 to the complete pattern. Performance for a single cycle displayed alone is as good as for the whole RF, indicating that information within a single RF cycle is sufficient to support the whole shape discrimination threshold, arguing against an influence of global processing. Second, we find similar thresholds for the discrimination of RF patterns and modulated line stimuli, also arguing against global effects. Third, we calculate a metric for the intrinsic orientation variation in a stimulus cycle at threshold and show that this potentially accounts for the improvement in shape and line discrimination thresholds with modulation frequency from RF1 to RF6. Higher threshold discrimination for chromatic compared to achromatic patterns may reflect the poorer orientation discrimination of color vision, rather than a deficit for global processing. We propose that the global stages of shape processing are not revealed at threshold but are enabled only for well-defined shapes at suprathreshold modulations.
Note: Standard deviations are given in parentheses.
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