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Functional architecture of long-range perceptual interactions

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

The pattern of lateral interactions in the primary visual cortex, which has emerged from recent studies, conforms to the grouping rules of similarity, proximity, smoothness and closure. The goal of this paper is to understand the perceptual salience of oriented elements that are specifically organized to form a smooth contour. An overview of recent studies, in combination with new experimental results, is presented here to emphasis the idea that visual responses depend on input from both the center and the surround of the classical receptive field (CRF). It is assumed that normal lateral interactions produce a neuronal network that is formed by two antagonistic mechanisms: (i) excitation, that is spatially organized along the optimal orientation (collinear), and is predominant near the contrast threshold of the neuron, and (ii) inhibition, that is less selective and is distributed diffusely around the cell's response field. Thus, the inputs from the CRF and the anisotropic surround are summated non-linearly. The specificity of the facilitation and suppression along the collinear direction suggests the existence of second-order elongated collinear filters, which may increase the response similarity between neurons responding to elongated stimulus, thus may enhance the perceptual salience of anisotropic configurations such as contours. This causal connection is particularly evident in amblyopes, where abnormal development of the network results in the abnormal perception of contours.

Affiliations: 1: The Institute for Vision Research, 14 Ahad Ha'am Street, Rehovot, 76105 Israel


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