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Chen C.-C.,National Taiwan University | Tyler C.W.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Symmetry detection is an interesting probe of pattern processing because it requires the matching of novel patterns without the benefit of prior recognition. However, there is evidence that prior knowledge of the axis location plays an important role in symmetry detection. We investigated how the prior information about the symmetry axis affects symmetry detection under noise-masking conditions. The target stimuli were random-dot displays structured to be symmetric about vertical, horizontal, or diagonal axes and viewed through eight apertures (1.2° diameter) evenly distributed around a 6° diameter circle. The information about axis orientation was manipulated by (1) cueing of axis orientation before the trial and (2) varying axis salience by including or excluding the axis region within the noise apertures. The percentage of correct detection of the symmetry was measured at for a range of both target and masking noise densities. The threshold vs. noise density function was flat at low noise density and increased with a slope of 0.75-0.8 beyond a critical density. Axis cueing reduced the target threshold 2-4fold at all noise densities while axis salience had an effect only at high noise density. Our results are inconsistent with an ideal observer or signal-to-noise account of symmetry detection but can be explained by a multiple-channel model is which the response in each channel is the ratio between the nonlinear transform of the responses of sets of early symmetry detectors and the sum of external and intrinsic sources of noise. © 2010 Chen, Tyler.

Cottereau B.R.,French National Center for Scientific Research | McKee S.P.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | Norcia A.M.,Stanford University
Journal of Neurophysiology | Year: 2014

The perception of motion-in-depth is important for avoiding collisions and for the control of vergence eye-movements and other motor actions. Previous psychophysical studies have suggested that sensitivity to motion-in-depth has a lower temporal processing limit than the perception of lateral motion. The present study used functional MRI-informed EEG source-imaging to study the spatiotemporal properties of the responses to lateral motion and motion-in-depth in human visual cortex. Lateral motion and motion-in-depth displays comprised stimuli whose only difference was interocular phase: monocular oscillatory motion was either inphase in the two eyes (lateral motion) or in antiphase (motion-indepth). Spectral analysis was used to break the steady-state visually evoked potentials responses down into even and odd harmonic components within five functionally defined regions of interest: V1, V4, lateral occipital complex, V3A, and hMT+.We also characterized the responses within two anatomically defined regions: the inferior and superior parietal cortex. Even harmonic components dominated the evoked responses and were a factor of approximately two larger for lateral motion than motion-in-depth. These responses were slower for motion-in-depth and were largely independent of absolute disparity. In each of our regions of interest, responses at odd-harmonics were relatively small, but were larger for motion-in-depth than lateral motion, especially in parietal cortex, and depended on absolute disparity. Taken together, our results suggest a plausible neural basis for reduced psychophysical sensitivity to rapid motion-in-depth. © 2014 the American Physiological Society.

Song J.-H.,Brown University | Song J.-H.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | McPeek R.M.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | McPeek R.M.,SUNY College of Optometry
Journal of Neurophysiology | Year: 2015

We recently demonstrated that inactivation of the primate superior colliculus (SC) causes a deficit in target selection for arm-reaching movements when the reach target is located in the inactivated field (Song JH, Rafal RD, McPeek RM. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108: E1433–E1440, 2011). This is consistent with the notion that the SC is part of a general-purpose target selection network beyond eye movements. To understand better the role of SC activity in reach target selection, we examined how individual SC neurons in the intermediate layers discriminate a reach target from distractors. Monkeys reached to touch a color oddball target among distractors while maintaining fixation. We found that many SC neurons robustly discriminate the goal of the reaching movement before the onset of the reach even though no saccade is made. To identify these cells in the context of conventional SC cell classification schemes, we also recorded visual, delay-period, and saccade-related responses in a delayed saccade task. On average, SC cells that discriminated the reach target from distractors showed significantly higher visual and delay-period activity than nondiscriminating cells, but there was no significant difference in saccade-related activity. Whereas a majority of SC neurons that discriminated the reach target showed significant delay-period activity, all nondiscriminating cells lacked such activity. We also found that some cells without delay-period activity did discriminate the reach target from distractors. We conclude that the majority of intermediate-layer SC cells discriminate a reach target from distractors, consistent with the idea that the SC contains a priority map used for effector-independent target selection. © 2015 the American Physiological Society.

Lee B.-T.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | McPeek R.M.,New York University
Vision Research | Year: 2013

Covert visual search has been studied extensively in humans, and has been used as a tool for understanding visual attention and cueing effects. In contrast, much less is known about covert search performance in monkeys, despite the fact that much of our understanding of the neural mechanisms of attention is based on these animals. In this study, we characterize the covert visual search performance of monkeys by training them to discriminate the orientation of a briefly-presented, peripheral Landolt-C target embedded within an array of distractor stimuli while maintaining fixation. We found that target discrimination performance declined steeply as the number of distractors increased when the target and distractors were of the same color, but not when the target was an odd color (color pop-out). Performance was also strongly affected by peripheral spatial precues presented before target onset, with better performance seen when the precue coincided with the target location (valid precue) than when it did not (invalid precue). Moreover, the effectiveness of valid precues was greatest when the delay between precue and target was short (∼80-100. ms), and gradually declined with longer delays, consistent with a transient component to the cueing effect. Discrimination performance was also significantly affected by prior knowledge of the target location in the absence of explicit visual precues. These results demonstrate that covert visual search performance in macaques is very similar to that of humans, indicating that the macaque provides an appropriate model for understanding the neural mechanisms of covert search. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Heinen S.J.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Journal of vision | Year: 2011

Smooth pursuit of natural objects requires flexible allocation of attention to inspect features. However, it has been reported that attention is focused at the fovea during pursuit. We ask here if foveal attention is obligatory during pursuit, or if it can be disengaged. Observers tracked a stimulus composed of a central dot surrounded by four others and identified one of the dots when it dimmed. Extinguishing the center dot before the dimming improved task performance, suggesting that attention was released from it. To determine if the center dot automatically usurped attention, we provided the pursuit system with an alternative sensory signal by adding peripheral motion that moved with the stimulus. This also improved identification performance, evidence that a central target does not necessarily require attention during pursuit. Identification performance at the central dot also improved, suggesting that the spatial extent of the background did not attract attention to the periphery; instead, peripheral motion freed pursuit attention from the central dot, affording better identification performance. The results show that attention can be flexibly allocated during pursuit and imply that attention resources for pursuit of small and large objects come from different sources.

Farzin F.,Stanford University | Hou C.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | Norcia A.M.,Stanford University
Journal of Vision | Year: 2012

Integration of local elements into a coherent global form is a fundamental aspect of visual object recognition. How the different hierarchically organized stages of visual analysis develop in order to support object representation in infants remains unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate structural encoding of natural images in 4-to 6-month-old infants and adults. We used the steady-state visual evoked potential (ssVEP) technique to measure cortical responses specific to the global structure present in object and face images, and assessed whether differential responses were present for these image categories. This study is the first to apply the ssVEP method to high-level vision in infants. Infants and adults responded to the structural relations present in both image categories, and topographies of the responses differed based on image category. However, while adult responses to face and object structure were localized over occipitotemporal scalp areas, only infant face responses were distributed over temporal regions. Therefore, both infants and adults show object category specificity in their neural responses. The topography of the infant response distributions indicates that between 4 and 6 months of age, structure encoding of faces occurs at a higher level of processing than that of objects. © 2012 ARVO.

Coughlan J.M.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | Shen H.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Journal of Assistive Technologies | Year: 2013

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe recent progress on the "Crosswatch" project, a smartphone-based system developed for providing guidance to blind and visually impaired travelers at traffic intersections. Building on past work on Crosswatch functionality to help the user achieve proper alignment with the crosswalk and read the status of walk lights to know when it is time to cross, the authors outline the directions Crosswatch is now taking to help realize its potential for becoming a practical system: namely, augmenting computer vision with other information sources, including geographic information systems (GIS) and sensor data, and inferring the user's location much more precisely than is possible through GPS alone, to provide a much larger range of information about traffic intersections to the pedestrian. Design/methodology/approach: The paper summarizes past progress on Crosswatch and describes details about the development of new Crosswatch functionalities. One such functionality, which is required for determination of the user's precise location, is studied in detail, including the design of a suitable user interface to support this functionality and preliminary tests of this interface with visually impaired volunteer subjects. Findings: The results of the tests of the new Crosswatch functionality demonstrate that the functionality is feasible in that it is usable by visually impaired persons. Research limitations/implications: While the tests that were conducted of the new Crosswatch functionality are preliminary, the results of the tests have suggested several possible improvements, to be explored in the future. Practical implications: The results described in this paper suggest that the necessary technologies used by the Crosswatch system are rapidly maturing, implying that the system has an excellent chance of becoming practical in the near future. Originality/value: The paper addresses an innovative solution to a key problem faced by blind and visually impaired travelers, which has the potential to greatly improve independent travel for these individuals. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Likova L.T.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2012

In a memory-guided drawing task under blindfolded conditions, we have recently used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to demonstrate that the primary visual cortex (V1) may operate as the visuo-spatial buffer, or "sketchpad," for working memory. The results implied, however, a modality-independent or a modal form of its operation. In the present study, to validate the role of V1 in non-visual memory, we eliminated not only the visual input but all levels of visual processing by replicating the paradigm in a congenitally blind individual. Our novel Cognitive-Kinesthetic method was used to train this totally blind subject to draw complex images guided solely by tactile memory. Control tasks of tactile exploration and memorization of the image to be drawn, and memory-free scribbling were also included. FMRI was run before training and after training. Remarkably, V1 of this congenitally blind individual, which before training exhibited noisy, immature, and non-specific responses, after training produced full-fledged response time-courses specific to the tactile-memory drawing task. The results reveal the operation of a rapid training-based plasticity mechanism that recruits the resources of V1 in the process of learning to draw. The learning paradigm allowed us to investigate for the first time the evolution of plastic re-assignment in V1 in a congenitally blind subject. These findings are consistent with a non-visual memory involvement of V1, and specifically imply that the observed cortical reorganization can be empowered by the process of learning to draw. © 2012 Likova.

Tyler C.W.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | Likova L.T.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2012

With all the wealth of scientific activities, there remains a certain stigma associated with careers in science, as a result of the inevitable concentration on narrow specializations that are inaccessible to general understanding. Enhancement of the process of scientific learning remains a challenge, particularly in the school setting. While direct explanation seems the best approach to expedite learning any specific subject, it is well known that the ability to deeply absorb facts and concepts is greatly enhanced by placing them in a broader context of relevance to the issues of everyday life and to the larger goals of improvement of the quality of life and advancement to a more evolved society as a whole. If the sciences can be associated with areas of artistic endeavor, they may be viewed as more accessible and favorable topics of study. There is consequently an urgent need for research in the relationship between learning and experience in the arts because both art education and scientific literacy remain at an inadequate level even in economically advanced contries. The focus of this review is the concept that inspiration is an integral aspect of the artistic experience, both for the artist and for the viewer of the artwork. As an integrative response, inspiration involves not only higher cortical circuitry but its integration with the deep brain structures such as limbic system and medial frontal structures, which are understood to mediate the experience of emotions, motivational rewards and the appreciation of the aesthetic values of the impinging stimuli. In this sense, inspiration can turn almost any occupation in life into an avocation, a source of satisfaction in achieving life goals. Conversely, when inspiration is lacking, the motivation to learn, adapt and prosper is impeded. Thus, inspiration may be viewed as a potent aspect of human experience in linking art and science. © 2012 Tyler.

Janssen C.P.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute | Verghese P.,The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Journal of Vision | Year: 2015

We investigated whether adults with healthy vision can move their eyes toward an informative target area that is initially hidden by a gaze-contingent scotoma in the periphery when they are under time pressure. In the experimental task, participants had to perform an objectcomparison task requiring a same-different judgment about two silhouettes. One silhouette was visible, whereas the other was hidden under the scotoma. Despite time pressure and the presence of the visible silhouette, most participants were able to move their eyes toward the informative region to reveal the hidden silhouette. Saccades to the hidden stimulus occurred when the visible stimulus was presented directly opposite in either fixed or variable locations and when the visible stimulus was presented at an adjacent location. Older participants were also able to perform this task. First saccades in the direction of the hidden stimulus had longer latencies compared with saccades toward the visible stimulus. This suggests the use of a deliberate, nonreflexive saccade strategy ("stop before you saccade"). A subset of participants occasionally made curved saccades that were aimed first toward the visible stimulus and then toward the hidden stimulus.We discuss the implications of our findings for patients who have a biological scotoma, for example, in macular degeneration. © 2015 ARVO.

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