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Marc M. Himmelberg, Jonathan Winawer, Marisa Carrasco; Stimulus-dependent contrast sensitivity asymmetries around the visual field. Journal of Vision 2020;20(9):18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.9.18.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Asymmetries in visual performance at isoeccentric locations are well-documented and functionally important. At a fixed eccentricity, visual performance is best along the horizontal, intermediate along the lower vertical, and poorest along the upper vertical meridian. These performance fields are pervasive across a range of visual tasks, including those mediated by contrast sensitivity. However, contrast performance fields have not been characterized with a systematic manipulation of stimulus spatial frequency, eccentricity, and size; three parameters that constrain contrast sensitivity. Further, individual differences in performance fields measurements have not been assessed. Here, we use an orientation discrimination task to characterize the pattern of contrast sensitivity across four isoeccentric locations along the cardinal meridians, and to examine whether and how this asymmetry pattern changes with systematic manipulation of stimulus spatial frequency (4 cpd to 8 cpd), eccentricity (4.5 degrees to 9 degrees), and size (3 degrees visual angle to 6 degrees visual angle). Our data demonstrate that contrast sensitivity is highest along the horizontal, intermediate along the lower vertical, and poorest along the upper vertical meridian. This pattern is consistent across stimulus parameter manipulations, even though they cause profound shifts in contrast sensitivity. Eccentricity-dependent decreases in contrast sensitivity can be compensated for by scaling stimulus size alone. Moreover, we find that individual variability in the strength of performance field asymmetries is consistent across conditions. This study is the first to systematically and jointly manipulate, and compare, contrast performance fields across spatial frequency, eccentricity, and size, and to address individual variability in performance fields.
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