August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Long-range, pattern-dependent contextual effects in early human visual cortex
Author Affiliations
  • Scott O. Murray
    Department of Psychology, University of Washington
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1383. doi:
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      Scott O. Murray, Sung Jun Joo, Geoffrey M. Boynton; Long-range, pattern-dependent contextual effects in early human visual cortex. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1383. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The standard view of neurons in early visual cortex is that they behave like localized feature detectors. We will discuss recent results that demonstrate that neurons in early visual areas go beyond localized feature detection and are sensitive to part-whole relationships in images. We measured neural responses to a grating stimulus (“target”) embedded in various visual patterns as defined by the relative orientation of flanking stimuli. We varied whether or not the target was part of a predictable sequence by changing the orientation of distant gratings while maintaining the same local stimulus arrangement. For example, a vertically oriented target grating that is flanked locally with horizontal flankers (HVH) can be made to be part of a predictable sequence by adding vertical distant flankers (VHVHV). We found that even when the local configuration (e.g. HVH) around the target was kept the same there was a smaller neural response when the target was part of a predictable sequence (VHVHV). Furthermore, when making an orientation judgment of a “noise” stimulus that contains no specific orientation information, observers were biased to “see” the orientation that deviates from the predictable orientation, consistent with computational models of primate cortical processing that incorporate efficient coding principles. Our results suggest that early visual cortex is sensitive to global patterns in images in a way that is markedly different from the predictions of standard models of cortical visual processing and indicate an important role in coding part-whole relationships in images.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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