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Anthony M. Norcia, T. Rowan Candy, Mark W. Pettet, Vladimir Y. Vildavski, Christopher W. Tyler; Temporal dynamics of the human response to symmetry. Journal of Vision 2002;2(2):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/2.2.1.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Symmetry is a highly salient feature of animals, plants, and the constructed environment. Although the perceptual phenomenology of symmetry processing is well understood, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Here we use visual evoked potentials to measure the time course of neural events associated with the extraction of symmetry in random dot fields. We presented sparse random dot patterns that were symmetric about both the vertical and horizontal axes. Symmetric patterns were alternated with random patterns of the same density every 500 msec, using new exemplars of symmetric and random patterns on each image update. Random/random exchanges were used as a control. The response to updates of random patterns was multiphasic, consisting of P65, N90, P110, N140 and P220 peaks. The response to symmetric/random sequences was indistinguishable from that for random/random sequences up to about 220 msec, after which the response to symmetric patterns became relatively more negative. Symmetry in random dot patterns thus appears to be extracted after an initial response phase that is indifferent to configuration. These results are consistent with the hypothesis (Lee, Mumford, Romero, & Lamme, 1998; Tyler & Baseler, 1998) that the symmetry property is extracted by processing in extrastriate cortex.
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