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Jing Chen, Meaghan McManus, Matteo Valsecchi, Laurence R. Harris, Karl R. Gegenfurtner; Steady-state visually evoked potentials reveal partial size constancy in early visual cortex. Journal of Vision 2019;19(6):8. doi: 10.1167/19.6.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our visual system maintains a stable representation of object size when viewing distance, and thus retinal size, changes. Previous studies have revealed that the extent of an object's representation in V1 shows systematic deviations from strict retinotopy when the object is perceived to be at different distances. It remains unknown, however, to what degree V1 activity accounts for perceptual size constancy. We investigated the neural correlates of size-constancy using steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP) known to originate in early visual cortex. Flickering stimuli of various sizes were placed at a viewing distance of 40 cm and stimuli twice as large were shown at 80 cm. Thus both sets of stimuli had identical retinal sizes. At a constant viewing distance, SSVEP amplitude increased as a function of increasing retinal size. Crucially, SSVEP was larger when stimuli of a given retinal size were presented at 80 cm compared with at 40 cm independent of flicker frequency. Experiments were repeated and extended in virtual reality. Our results agree with previous findings showing that V1 activity plays a role in size constancy. Furthermore, we estimated the degree of the neural correction for the SSVEP as being close to 50% of the perceptual size constancy. This was the case in all experiments, independent of the effectiveness of perceptual size constancy. We conclude that retinotopy in V1 does get quite massively adjusted by perceived size, but not to the same extent as perceptual judgments.
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