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Noga Pinchuk-Yacobi, Dov Sagi; Orientation-selective adaptation improves perceptual grouping. Journal of Vision 2019;19(9):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.9.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The role of visual pattern adaptation, and learning, in spatial integration was investigated. Observers reported whether a grid of identical tilted bars was perceived as rows or columns (perceptual grouping task). Performance was measured multiple times during a session to determine effects of repeated exposure to the stimuli. To test for possible effects of learning on the within-session dynamics, observers repeated the experiment on five days. We found that repeated performance produced rapid within-day improvements, which were largely transient and were not retained on subsequent days. In addition, exposure to stimuli with equal orientation contributed to the within-session improvement, whereas stimuli having an orientation differing by 45° from the original orientation diminished the improvement previously obtained in the same session. Practice with the task over days resulted in faster improvements. The transient nature of these exposure-driven improvements and their susceptibility to interference by stimuli designed to reduce adaptation suggest that adaptation was their main cause. Finally, to investigate the effects of adaptation on internal noise and on spatial integration, we employed an external-noise paradigm, showing that internal-noise reduction resulted from adaptation. Internal noise was reduced only when spatial integration was effective, suggesting that adaptation improved perception of global stimulus properties. Overall, our results suggest that the grouping task benefits from an adaptation process that rapidly adjusts the visual system to the statistics of the visual stimuli. We suggest that this effect is achieved through spatial decorrelation of neural responses. With practice, those adjustments are made faster.
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