ECVP 2005 Abstract

Cite as:
Meese T S, Georgeson M A, Baker D H, 2005, "Interocular masking and summation indicate two stages of divisive contrast gain control" Perception 34 ECVP Abstract Supplement

Interocular masking and summation indicate two stages of divisive contrast gain control

T S Meese, M A Georgeson, D H Baker

Our understanding of early spatial vision owes much to contrast masking and summation paradigms. In particular, the deep region of facilitation at low mask contrasts is thought to indicate a rapidly accelerating contrast transducer (eg a square-law or greater). In experiment 1, we tapped an early stage of this process by measuring monocular and binocular thresholds for patches of 1 cycle deg-1 sine-wave grating. Threshold ratios were around 1.7, implying a nearly linear transducer with an exponent around 1.3. With this form of transducer, two previous models (Legge, 1984 Vision Research 24 385 - 394; Meese et al, 2004 Perception 33 Supplement, 41) failed to fit the monocular, binocular, and dichoptic masking functions measured in experiment 2. However, a new model with two-stages of divisive gain control fits the data very well. Stage 1 incorporates nearly linear monocular transducers (to account for the high level of binocular summation and slight dichoptic facilitation), and monocular and interocular suppression (to fit the profound dichoptic masking). Stage 2 incorporates steeply accelerating transduction (to fit the deep regions of monocular and binocular facilitation), and binocular summation and suppression (to fit the monocular and binocular masking). With all model parameters fixed from the discrimination thresholds, we examined the slopes of the psychometric functions. The monocular and binocular slopes were steep (Weibull β≅ 3 - 4) at very low mask contrasts and shallow ( β ≅ 1.2) at all higher contrasts, as predicted by all three models. The dichoptic slopes were steep ( β ≅ 3 - 4) at very low contrasts, and very steep ( β > 5.5) at high contrasts (confirming Meese et al, loco cit.). A crucial new result was that intermediate dichoptic mask contrasts produced shallow slopes ( β ≅ 2). Only the two-stage model predicted the observed pattern of slope variation, so providing good empirical support for a two-stage process of binocular contrast transduction.

[Supported by EPSRC GR/S74515/01.]

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