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Chien-Chung Chen, Christopher W. Tyler; Excitatory and inhibitory interaction fields of flankers revealed by contrast-masking functions. Journal of Vision 2008;8(4):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.4.10.
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To study spatial interactions corresponding to the non-classical receptive field organization for human vision, we used a dual-masking paradigm to measure how target contrast discrimination can be affected by the relative location of the flankers. The observers' task was to detect a 4 cycle/deg vertical Gabor superimposed on a matching Gabor pedestal in the presence of vertical Gabor flankers. The flankers were either (i) collinear with the target and varying in distance or (ii) at a fixed distance from the target but with varying in location relative to the vertical axis. Compared with the no-flanker condition, the collinear flankers decreased target threshold at low pedestal contrasts (facilitation) and increased threshold at high contrasts (suppression). The low contrast facilitation increased with distance up to 4 wavelengths and decreased beyond that. Both facilitative and suppressive flanker effects were greatest at the collinear location and decreased monotonically as flanker location deviated from the collinear axis. These flanker effects are modeled with our sensitivity modulation model, which suggests that the flanker effects are multiplicative terms applied to both the excitatory and inhibitory terms of a divisive inhibition response function. The model parameters show that the facilitative flanker effect is narrowly tuned in space. The data are not compatible with a model of additive normalization by the pedestal contrast or with the uncertainty model.
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