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Chuyao Yan, Alexis Pérez-Bellido, Floris P. de Lange; Amodal completion instead of predictive coding can explain activity suppression of early visual cortex during illusory shape perception. Journal of Vision 2021;21(5):13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.5.13.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A set of recent neuroimaging studies observed that the perception of an illusory shape can elicit both positive and negative feedback modulations in different parts of the early visual cortex. When three Pac-Men shapes were aligned in such a way that they created an illusory triangle (i.e., the Kanizsa illusion), neural activity in early visual cortex was enhanced in those neurons that had receptive fields that overlapped with the illusory shape but suppressed in neurons whose receptive field overlapped with the Pac-Men inducers. These results were interpreted as congruent with the predictive coding framework, in which neurons in early visual cortex enhance or suppress their activity depending on whether the top-down predictions match the bottom-up sensory inputs. However, there are several plausible alternative explanations for the activity modulations. Here we tested a recent proposal (Moors, 2015) that the activity suppression in early visual cortex during illusory shape perception reflects neural adaptation to perceptually stable input. Namely, the inducers appear perceptually stable during the illusory shape condition (discs on which a triangle is superimposed), but not during the control condition (discs that change into Pac-Men). We examined this hypothesis by manipulating the perceptual stability of inducers. When the inducers could be perceptually interpreted as persistent circles, we replicated the up- and downregulation pattern shown in previous studies. However, when the inducers could not be perceived as persistent circles, we still observed enhanced activity in neurons representing the illusory shape but the suppression of activity in neurons representing the inducers was absent. Thus our results support the hypothesis that the activity suppression in neurons representing the inducers during the Kanizsa illusion is better explained by neural adaptation to perceptually stable input than by reduced prediction error.
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