[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To study prelexical processes involved in visual word recognition a task is needed that only operates at the level of abstract letter identities. The masked priming same-different task has been purported to do this, as the same pattern of priming is shown for words and nonwords. However, studies using this task have consistently found a processing advantage for words over nonwords, indicating a lexicality effect. We investigated the locus of this word advantage. Experiment 1 used conventional visually-presented reference stimuli to test previous accounts of the lexicality effect. Results rule out the use of different strategies, or strength of representations, for words and nonwords. No interaction was shown between prime type and word type, but a consistent word advantage was found. Experiment 2 used novel auditorally-presented reference stimuli to restrict nonword matching to the sublexical level. This abolished scrambled priming for nonwords, but not words. Overall this suggests the processing advantage for words over nonwords results from activation of whole-word, lexical representations. Furthermore, the number of shared open-bigrams between primes and targets could account for scrambled priming effects. These results have important implications for models of orthographic processing and studies that have used this task to investigate prelexical processes.
PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e72888. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of a general global motion processing deficit in amblyopia is now well established, although its severity may depend on image speed and amblyopia type, but its underlying cause(s) is still largely indeterminate. To address this issue and to characterize further the nature of the global motion perception deficit in human amblyopia, the effects of varying spatial offset (jump size - Δs) and temporal offset (delay between positional updates - Δt) in discriminating global motion for a range of speeds (1.5, 3 and 9 °/s) in both amblyopic and normal vision were evaluated. For normal adult observers (NE) and the non-amblyopic eye (FE) motion coherence thresholds measured when Δt was varied were significantly higher than those when Δs was varied. Furthermore when Δt was varied, thresholds rose significantly as the speed of image motion decreased for both NEs and FEs. AE thresholds were higher overall than the other eyes and appeared independent of both the method used to create movement and speed. These results suggest that the spatial and temporal limits underlying the perception of global motion are different. In addition degrading the smoothness of motion has comparatively little effect on the motion mechanisms driven by the AE, suggesting that the internal noise associated with encoding motion direction is relatively high.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The intention of this series of experiments was to determine the extent to which the pathways sensitive to first-order and second-order motion are independent of one another at, and above, the level of global motion integration. We used translational, radial and rotational motion stimuli containing luminance-modulated dots, contrast-modulated dots, or a mixture of both. Our results show that the two classes of motion stimuli interact perceptually in a global motion coherence task, and the extent of this interaction is governed by whether the two varieties of local motion signal produce an equivalent response in the pathways that encode each type of motion. This provides strong psychophysical evidence that global motion and optic flow processing are cue-invariant. The fidelity of the first-order motion signal was moderated by either reducing the luminance of the dots or by increasing the displacement of the dots on each positional update. The experiments were carried out with two different types of second-order elements (contrast-modulated dots and flicker-modulated dots) and the results were comparable, suggesting that these findings are generalisable to a variety of second-order stimuli. In addition, the interaction between the two different types of second-order stimuli was investigated and we found that the relative modulation depth was also crucial to whether the two populations interacted. We conclude that the relative output of local motion sensors sensitive to either first-order or second-order motion dictates their weight in subsequent cue-invariant global motion computations.
Vision research 09/2012; 68:28-39. · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We agree with many of the principles proposed by Frost but highlight crucial caveats and report research findings that challenge several assertions made in the target article. We discuss the roles that visual processing, development, and bilingualism play in visual word recognition and reading. These are overlooked in all current models, but are fundamental to any universal model of reading.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 08/2012; 35(5):300-1. · 14.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is well established that amblyopes exhibit deficits in processing first-order (luminance-defined) patterns. This is readily manifest by measuring spatiotemporal sensitivity (i.e. the "window of visibility") to moving luminance gratings. However the window of visibility to moving second-order (texture-defined) patterns has not been systematically studied in amblyopia. To address this issue monocular modulation sensitivity (1/threshold) to first-order motion and four different varieties of second-order motion (modulations of either the contrast, flicker, size or orientation of visual noise) was measured over a five-octave range of spatial and temporal frequencies. Compared to normals amblyopes are not only impaired in the processing of first-order motion, but overall they exhibit both higher thresholds and a much narrower window of visibility to second-order images. However amblyopia can differentially impair the perception of some types of second-order motion much more than others and crucially the precise pattern of deficits varies markedly between individuals (even for those with the same conventional visual acuity measures). For the most severely impaired amblyopes certain second-order (texture) cues to movement in the environment are effectively invisible. These results place important constraints on the possible architecture of models of second-order motion perception in human vision.
Vision research 08/2011; 51(18):2008-20. · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The brain estimates visual motion by decoding the responses of populations of neurons. Extracting unbiased motion estimates from early visual cortical neurons is challenging because each neuron contributes an ambiguous (local) representation of the visual environment and inherently variable neural response. To mitigate these sources of noise, the brain can pool across large populations of neurons, pool the response of each neuron over time, or a combination of the two. Recent psychophysical and physiological work points to a flexible motion pooling system that arrives at different computational solutions over time and for different stimuli. Here we ask whether a single, likelihood-based computation can accommodate the flexible nature of spatiotemporal motion pooling in humans. We examined the contribution of different computations to human observers' performance on two global visual motion discriminations tasks, one requiring the combination of motion directions over time and another requiring their combination in different relative proportions over space and time. Observers' perceived direction of global motion was accurately predicted by a vector average readout of direction signals accumulated over time and a maximum likelihood readout of direction signals combined over space, consistent with the notion of a flexible motion pooling system that uses different computations over space and time. Additional simulations of observers' performance with a population decoding model revealed a more parsimonious solution: flexible spatiotemporal pooling could be accommodated by a single computation that optimally pools motion signals across a population of neurons that accumulate local motion signals on their receptive fields at a fixed rate over time.
Journal of Neuroscience 03/2011; 31(13):4917-25. · 6.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compared the development of sensitivity to first- versus second-order global motion in 5-year-olds (n=24) and adults (n=24) tested at three displacements (0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 degrees). Sensitivity was measured with Random-Gabor Kinematograms (RGKs) formed with luminance-modulated (first-order) or contrast-modulated (second-order) concentric Gabor patterns. Five-year-olds were less sensitive than adults to the direction of both first- and second-order global motion at every displacement tested. In addition, the immaturity was smallest at the smallest displacement, which required the least spatial integration, and smaller for first-order than for second-order global motion at the middle displacement. The findings suggest that the development of sensitivity to global motion is limited by the development of spatial integration and by different rates of development of sensitivity to first- versus second-order signals.
Seeing and perceiving 11/2010; 23(5-6):517-32. · 1.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study assessed spatial summation of first-order (luminance-defined) and second-order (contrast-defined) motion. Thresholds were measured for identifying the drift direction of 1c/deg., luminance-modulated and contrast-modulated dynamic noise drifting at temporal frequencies of 0.5, 2 and 8Hz. Image size varied from 0.125 degrees to 16 degrees . The effects of increasing image size on thresholds for luminance-modulated noise were also compared to those for luminance-defined gratings. In all cases, performance improved as image size increased. The rate at which performance improved with increasing image size was similar for all stimuli employed although the slopes corresponding to the initial improvement were steeper for first-order compared to second-order motion. The image sizes at which performance for first-order motion asymptote were larger than for second-order motion. In addition, findings showed that the minimum image size required to support reliable identification of the direction of moving stimuli is greater for second-order than first-order motion. Thus, although first-order and second-order motion processing have a number of properties in common, the visual system's sensitivity to each type of motion as a function of image size is quite different.
Vision research 08/2010; 50(17):1766-74. · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spatial pooling is often considered synonymous with averaging (or other statistical combinations) of local information contained within a complex visual image. We have recently shown, however, that spatial pooling of motion signals is better characterized in terms of optimal decoding of neuronal populations rather than image statistics (Webb et al., 2007). Here we ask which computations guide the spatial and temporal pooling of local orientation signals in human vision. The observers' task was to discriminate which of two texture patterns had a more clockwise global orientation. Standard textures had a common orientation; comparison textures were chosen independently from a skewed (asymmetrical) probability distribution with distinct spatial or temporal statistics. We simulated observers' performance using different estimators (vector average, winner-takes-all and maximum likelihood) to decode the orientation-tuned activity of a population of model neurons. Our results revealed that the perceived global orientation of texture patterns coincided with the mean (or vector average read-out) of orientation signals accumulated over both space and time. To reconcile these results with our previous work on direction pooling, we varied stimulus duration. Perceived global orientation was accurately predicted by a vector average read-out of orientation signals at relatively short stimulus durations and maximum likelihood read-out at longer durations. Moreover, decreasing the luminance contrast of texture patterns increased the duration of the transition from a vector average to maximum likelihood read-out. Our results suggest that direction and orientation pooling use similar probabilistic read-out strategies when sufficient time is available.
Vision research 05/2010; 50(22):2274-83. · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated the spatial frequency selectivity of the human visual motion system using the technique of adaptation in which motion aftereffect (MAE) duration was taken as an index of aftereffect magnitude. Eight observers adapted to two vertically oriented, oppositely drifting, luminance-defined gratings that were spatially separated in the vertical dimension. The spatial frequency of the adaptation patterns spanned a 3-octave range (0.25 to 2 c/deg) and drifted at 5 Hz. Following adaptation (20 s), two stationary test patterns were presented and MAE duration was measured. The spatial frequency difference between the adaptation and test patterns was varied from -2.5 to 2.5 octaves in 0.5 octave steps. MAE tuning functions at the lowest adaptation frequency (0.25 c/deg) were bandpass and reasonably symmetric. However, as the spatial frequency of the adaptation patterns increased, overall MAE duration decreased and the shape of the tuning functions became markedly asymmetric. This asymmetry was characterized by a MAE peak that was centered approximately 1 octave below the adaptation frequency. The results are consistent with recent masking studies (C. V. Hutchinson & T. Ledgeway, 2007) and may reflect either asymmetric spatial frequency selectivity of underlying motion units or frequency-specific interactions (e.g. inhibition) between motion sensors tuned to different spatial frequencies.
Journal of Vision 01/2009; 9(1):4.1-9. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Visual letter search performance was investigated in a group of dyslexic adult readers using a task that required detection of a cued letter target embedded within a random five-letter string. Compared to a group of skilled readers, dyslexic readers were significantly slower at correctly identifying targets located in the first and second string position, illustrating significantly reduced leftward facilitation than is typically observed. Furthermore, compared to skilled readers, dyslexic readers showed reduced sensitivity to positional letter frequency. They failed to exhibit significantly faster response times to correctly detect target letters appearing in the most, compared to least, frequent letter position within five-letter words, and response times correlated with positional letter frequency only for the initial, and not the final, letter position. These results are compatible with the SERIOL (sequential encoding regulated by inputs to oscillations within letter units) model of orthographic processing proposed by Whitney and Cornelissen (2005). Furthermore, they suggest that dyslexic readers are less efficient than skilled readers at learning to extract statistical regularities from orthographic input.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigate whether orthographic processes influence the identification and encoding of letter position within letter strings. To minimise word-specific effects, we adopt a visual letter search task that requires participants to identify a cued letter target among a random five-letter string. Using this paradigm, previous studies have shown that letter targets to the left are identified faster than those to the right of centre and letter targets in the initial, medial and final positions are identified faster than those in neighbouring positions. While the medial letter advantage is likely to arise from greater visual acuity at the point of fixation, the mechanisms responsible for the left-to-right, and exterior, letter advantage have yet to be determined. We show that: (i) search functions for most letters reflect the directional scanning process required for reading English orthography; (ii) search times are significantly faster for letter targets that appear in the most, compared with the least, frequent position in written words; and (iii) search times correlate significantly with positional letter frequency, especially in the initial and final positions. We propose that a combination of low-level visual, and higher-level orthographic, processes modulate the encoding of letter identities and position in written word recognition.
Journal of Research in Reading 01/2008; 31(1):97 - 116. · 1.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amblyopic observers show deficits for global motion discrimination that cannot be accounted for by their contrast sensitivity impairment. The processing of first- and second-order translational global motion is deficient, as is the processing of first-order optic flow, suggesting that cortical function in extrastriate areas is impaired. The authors sought to determine whether amblyopes show impairment in the processing of optic flow defined by second-order motion, whether these deficits are comparable in the two eyes, and whether these deficits are correlated with first-order deficits.
Eight amblyopic subjects (three strabismic, three strabismic-anisometropic, one anisometropic, one deprivation; mean age, 29 years) were tested. The authors used random dot kinematograms in which the dots were luminance or contrast modulations of background noise. The global pattern of dot motion within the stimulus area was translational, radial, or rotational. Coherence thresholds for direction discrimination were obtained across a range of dot modulation depths, allowing the separation of contrast and motion deficits.
The present study showed that deficits in second-order optic flow processing were equivalent to those for first-order stimuli and that these were unrelated to the extent of the amblyopic contrast sensitivity deficit and were comparable in both eyes. Radial optic flow was more affected than rotational optic flow.
Global motion impairment appeared to have a high-level binocular locus and was independent of the depth of the contrast deficit. Results also support the idea that global motion and optic flow processing are form-cue invariant.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigates four key issues concerning the binocular properties of the mechanisms that encode global motion in human vision: (1) the extent of any binocular advantage; (2) the possible site of this binocular summation; (3) whether or not purely monocular inputs exist for global motion perception; (4) the extent of any dichoptic interaction. Global motion coherence thresholds were measured using random-dot-kinematograms as a function of the dot modulation depth (contrast) for translational, radial and circular flow fields. We found a marked binocular advantage of approximately 1.7, comparable for all three types of motion and the performance benefit was due to a contrast rather than a global motion enhancement. In addition, we found no evidence for any purely monocular influences on global motion detection. The results suggest that the site of binocular combination for global motion perception occurs prior to the extra-striate cortex where motion integration occurs. All cells involved are binocular and exhibit dichoptic interactions, suggesting the existence of a neural mechanism that involves more than just simple summation of the two monocular inputs.
Vision Research 07/2007; 47(12):1682-92. · 2.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Physiological studies suggest that decision networks read from the neural representation in the middle temporal area to determine the perceived direction of visual motion, whereas psychophysical studies tend to characterize motion perception in terms of the statistical properties of stimuli. To reconcile these different approaches, we examined whether estimating the central tendency of the physical direction of global motion was a better indicator of perceived direction than algorithms (e.g., maximum likelihood) that read from directionally tuned mechanisms near the end of the motion pathway. The task of human observers was to discriminate the global direction of random dot kinematograms composed of asymmetrical distributions of local directions with distinct measures of central tendency. None of the statistical measures of image direction central tendency provided consistently accurate predictions of perceived global motion direction. However, regardless of the local composition of motion directions, a maximum-likelihood decoder produced global motion estimates commensurate with the psychophysical data. Our results suggest that mechanism-based, read-out algorithms offer a more accurate and robust guide to human motion perception than any stimulus-based, statistical estimate of central tendency.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2007; 104(9):3532-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor