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Pattern-specific contrast threshold elevation

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

Visual channels are defined psychophysically; stimuli that interact share information in the same channel, and those that do not interact are processed in different channels. Channels are often investigated by means of adaptation to one stimulus, testing contrast threshold elevation with one (or more) others. Much recent work has tested the tuning of channels for orientation and spatial frequency, using simple line gratings. This study examined the pattern-specificity of such adaptation, testing the hypothesis that the fundamental operators of the Lie Transformation Group Theory of Neuropsychology (LTG/NP) define psychophysical channels. In Experiment I the three basic pattern pairs of LTG/NP were used as adaptation and test stimuli in a conventional contrast threshold-elevation experiment. Threshold elevation was pattern-specific, thus supporting the hypothesis. In subsequent experiments various 'fractured' patterns, and patterns generated by combinations of Lie operators were used both for adaptation and test. The results were mixed; some supported the original hypothesis, but many did not. Relations between local contour orientations in adaptation and test patterns could explain some results, but not all. The hypothesis that adaptation occurs to the oriented spatial-frequency components of the test patterns, on the other hand, gave a good fit to the data. It is concluded that there is pattern-specificity in contrast threshold elevation, but it is a form of specificity that can be explained without recourse to a model of geometrical pattern processing, at least for the simple patterns used here.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6


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