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Contrast dependence of perceptual grouping in brain-damaged patients with visual extinction

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Extinction is manifested in conditions of bilateral simultaneous stimulation, as a failure to detect the stimulus contra-lateral to the side of a cerebral lesion, while the same stimulus is correctly detected there when presented in isolation. The phenomenon is usually interpreted in terms of impaired mobilization of attention from an attended to an unattended object. We have recently shown, using pairs of Gabor patches as stimuli, that pair detection is maximally improved in conditions where the two stimuli presented simultaneously to the two halves of the visual field are co-oriented and co-axial and their location is not too eccentric. Here we add new information by showing that contrast isotropy of the stimulus pair is important in producing this orientation-similarity gain. The further advantage of co-oriented co-linear stimuli over co-oriented parallel (vertical) stimuli was shown exclusively with iso-contrast stimulus pairs, and was significantly enhanced when the contrast level of the stimulus pair was low. Stimulus properties producing reduced extinction seem to correlate with the selectivity pattern and contrast dependence of (a) spatial lateral facilitation observed in psychophysical studies with normal observers, and (b) long-range interactions observed in the primary visual cortex. Thus, two remote visual stimuli seem to be processed as a single object when the corresponding neuronal activities are linked via long-range lateral interactions. The present demonstration of contrast dependency in such processing, strengthens our previous conjecture that even in the presence of significant, extinction producing, parietal damage, the primary visual cortex preserves the capacity to encode, using long-range lateral interactions, an image description in which visual objects are already segregated from background.

Affiliations: 1: Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; 2: Department of Neurobiology/Brain Research, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel


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