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Factors limiting peripheral pattern discrimination

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

Previous reports indicate that some foveally discriminable compound gratings are indiscriminable in peripheral vision, even when they are scaled by the ratio of peripheral to foveal grating acuity. To determine the stimulus properties that limit peripheral discrimination, we used Gaussian derivatives of various orders. These patterns are spatially localized and have intrinsic even or odd symmetry. Our results show that certain odd symmetric patterns are discriminable in the periphery, while others are not. Furthermore, certain even symmetric patterns are not peripherally discriminable. These data are consistent with three limitations on peripheral pattern discrimination: (1) Patterns that produce different maximum neural responses will be peripherally discriminable. (2) Positional uncertainty and undersampling degrade discrimination of high spatial frequency patterns in the periphery. (3) Patterns generating substantial neural activity within a constrained region are processed as textures in peripheral vision so that pattern details within that region are no longer available for discrimination. A neural model incorporating inhibition of simple cells by complex cells implements a transition between contour analysis and texture analysis in peripheral vision and explains the experimental data.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Vision Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 OBA, United Kingdom; 2: Visual Sciences Center, University of Chicago, 939 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA


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