Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dissociable perceptual effects of visual adaptation.

Müller KM, Schillinger F, Do DH, Leopold DA.
PLoS One. 2009 Jul 10;4(7):e6183.

Neurons in the visual cortex are responsive to the presentation of oriented and curved line segments, which are thought to act as primitives for the visual processing of shapes and objects. Prolonged adaptation to such stimuli gives rise to two related perceptual effects: a slow change in the appearance of the adapting stimulus (perceptual drift), and the distortion of subsequently presented test stimuli (adaptational aftereffects). Here we used a psychophysical nulling technique to dissociate and quantify these two classical observations in order to examine their underlying mechanisms and their relationship to one another. In agreement with previous work, we found that during adaptation horizontal and vertical straight lines serve as attractors for perceived orientation and curvature. However, the rate of perceptual drift for different stimuli was not predictive of the corresponding aftereffect magnitudes, indicating that the two perceptual effects are governed by distinct neural processes. Finally, the rate of perceptual drift for curved line segments did not depend on the spatial scale of the stimulus, suggesting that its mechanisms lie outside strictly retinotopic processing stages. These findings provide new evidence that the visual system relies on statistically salient intrinsic reference stimuli for the processing of visual patterns, and point to perceptual drift as an experimental window for studying the mechanisms of visual perception.

PMID: 19593384

No comments: