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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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