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Vanessa K. Bowden, J. Edwin Dickinson, Allison M. Fox, David R. Badcock; Global shape processing: A behavioral and electrophysiological analysis of both contour and texture processing. Journal of Vision 2015;15(13):18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.13.18.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The number of corners on the boundary of a closed contour is thought to be particularly critical for shape detection and discrimination. The aim of the current study was to examine the relative contribution of the number of corners and the angle between corners to shape discrimination in complex visual scenes as well as to determine the time course and neural substrates of global shape processing based on the presence or absence of these specific features. In Experiment 1, event-related potentials were recorded while participants discriminated between two radial frequency (RF) patterns with the same maximum local curvature defining corners but varying arrangements of those corners. The results showed that the angle separating corners was more critical than the overall number of corners for discrimination performance. An enhanced negativity (posterior N220) over the occipital lobe was elicited following the presentation of an RF with three modulation cycles (RF3) but not following a circle, suggesting that the posterior N220 is sensitive to variation in curvature on a contour. In Experiment 2, we confirm the primary effect of the presence of corners on the amplitude of the posterior N220 component and extend the stimuli to include shapes defined by texture. Source localization on the N170 and N220 components was conducted in Experiment 2, and a source in cortical area V4 was identified. These findings suggest that corners contain vital information for the discrimination of shapes. Additionally, this study shows that the perceptual characteristics and neuroanatomical substrates can be detected using electrophysiological measures.
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