The response dynamics of primate visual cortical neurons to simulated optical blur
ABSTRACT Neurons in visual cortical area V1 typically respond well to lines or edges of specific orientations. There have been many studies investigating how the responses of these neurons to an oriented edge are affected by changes in luminance contrast. However, in natural images, edges vary not only in contrast but also in the degree of blur, both because of changes in focus and also because shadows are not sharp. The effect of blur on the response dynamics of visual cortical neurons has not been explored. We presented luminance-defined single edges in the receptive fields of parafoveal (1-6 deg eccentric) V1 neurons of two macaque monkeys trained to fixate a spot of light. We varied the width of the blurred region of the edge stimuli up to 0.36 deg of visual angle. Even though the neurons responded robustly to stimuli that only contained high spatial frequencies and 0.36 deg is much larger than the limits of acuity at this eccentricity, changing the degree of blur had minimal effect on the responses of these neurons to the edge. Primates need to measure blur at the fovea to evaluate image quality and control accommodation, but this might only involve a specialist subpopulation of neurons. If visual cortical neurons in general responded differently to sharp and blurred stimuli, then this could provide a cue for form perception, for example, by helping to disambiguate the luminance edges created by real objects from those created by shadows. On the other hand, it might be important to avoid the distraction of changing blur as objects move in and out of the plane of fixation. Our results support the latter hypothesis: the responses of parafoveal V1 neurons are largely unaffected by changes in blur over a wide range.
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ABSTRACT: Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are highly sensitive to changes in contrast, which is crucial for the detection of edges in a visual scene. However, in the natural environment, edges do not just vary in contrast, but edges also vary in the degree of blur, which can be caused by distance from the plane of fixation, motion, and shadows. Hence, blur is as much a characteristic of an edge as luminance contrast, yet its effects on the responses of RGCs are largely unexplored.We examined the responses of rabbit RGCs to sharp edges varying by contrast and also to high-contrast edges varying by blur. The width of the blur profile ranged from 0.73 to 13.05 deg of visual angle. For most RGCs, blurring a high-contrast edge produced the same pattern of reduction of response strength and increase in latency as decreasing the contrast of a sharp edge. In support of this, we found a significant correlation between the amount of blur required to reduce the response by 50% and the size of the receptive fields, suggesting that blur may operate by reducing the range of luminance values within the receptive field. These RGCs cannot individually encode for blur, and blur could only be estimated by comparing the responses of populations of neurons with different receptive field sizes. However, some RGCs showed a different pattern of changes in latency and magnitude with changes in contrast and blur; these neurons could encode blur directly.We also tested whether the response of a RGC to a blurred edge was linear, that is, whether the response of a neuron to a sharp edge was equal to the response to a blurred edge plus the response to the missing spatial components that were the difference between a sharp and blurred edge. Brisk-sustained cells were more linear; however, brisk-transient cells exhibited both linear and nonlinear behavior.Visual Neuroscience 03/2010; 27(1-2):43-55. DOI:10.1017/S0952523810000064 · 1.68 Impact Factor
Conference Paper: Functional brain imaging of a Dalí painting visual illusion by fMRI[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: An optical illusion (also called a visual illusion) is characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality. The information gathered by the eye is processed in the brain to give a perception that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. In this work, we used a Dalí painting, intentionally blurred to generate the “Lincoln illusion”. As far as we know, this is the first fMRI work carried out on a painting in its original form (NP) and on the same painting after low-pass filtering the painting to blur (BP) it with the aim of showing other hidden information, in this case – Lincoln’s face-. The obtained results show more activity at the visual cortex level and Brodmann areas 10, 11 and 17 (the cuneus) when the presented picture is original (without blurring) and more activity of amygdala, hippocampus and Brodmann Areas 7, 9 and 46 when the picture is blurred. These results suggest a different mental processing for blurred images containing hidden visual illusion.16th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, Barcelona, Spain; 06/2010